Sunday, May 27, 2007

Priest May Face Retrial Over Sex Abuse Charges

A priest may face a retrial after a jury yesterday failed to reach a verdict on two charges alleging he sexually abused a teenage girl almost 30 years ago.

Fr Patrick Joseph Crilly (63), from Tobermore Road, Desertmartin, Derry, was acquitted by 10-2 majority verdicts over two counts of indecently assaulting the girl between November 20, 1978, and November 19, 1980.

However after an eight-day trial in Derry, the jury foreman said the jury of six men and six women were “inextricably divided” on two other similar charges.

The charges are alleged to have taken place between April 1, 1977, and November 19, 1978, starting when the girl was 15.

The abuse is alleged to have taken place in the Derry diocesan pastoral centre in Bishop Street at a time when the complainant, who is now a 45-year-old mother of two, had gone to Fr Crilly to discuss the possibility of her becoming a nun.

He was the director of vocations at the centre at the time of the alleged attacks.

After the verdicts were announced yesterday the complainant immediately walked out of the Derry courtroom.

Prosecution barrister Geoffrey Millar said he had no objection to Fr Crilly being released on continuing bail.

“I will seek directions from the department as to the next step in the proceedings,” he told Judge Corinne Philpott.

Judge Philpott released Fr Crilly on continuing bail on the two outstanding charges and told the priest that he would be informed “in the coming weeks” about the prosecution service’s decision on them.

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