Monday, March 29, 2010

Brady is fighting five legal cases from Smyth victims

Cardinal Sean Brady is fighting five victims of the paedophile priest rapist Brendan Smyth in legal cases, three of which have been before the High Court for more than a decade.

And it has also been learnt that senior clergy who knew about clerical abusers and did nothing could now be facing prosecution after the appointment of the former heard of the Criminal Assets Bureau to investigate whether offences were committed by failure to report to gardai or to take steps to stop the rape and abuse of children.

Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony has been brought back to Dublin from his position as head of the garda western region based in Galway.

He is heading a hand-picked team of top detectives to examine files released by the Catholic Church and information uncovered in other garda investigations, and to speak to senior clergy who knew about abusers but did nothing about them.

The Sunday Independent has now learnt that on top of the case exposed by this newspaper two weeks ago -- involving the cardinal interviewing two young boys in 1975 who were raped and abused by Smyth -- four other victims of the multiple rapist paedophile have also brought cases in which Cardinal Brady is named as defendant.

All five cases have involved prolonged stonewalling legal defences. Two of these cases are 13 years old, having begun in the High Court in 1997; another has been running since 1999 but seems to have fallen dormant after about seven years for reasons which are not clear; and two others were brought in 2002 and 2003. The cases involved three male and two female child victims of Smyth.

Cardinal Brady is being sued by one plaintiff in two cases; one brought against him in his capacity as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland; and the other in a personal capacity after the plaintiff learnt in 2006 about the cardinal's personal knowledge of Smyth's abuse when he interviewed the two boys in 1975 and his presence when they were sworn to secrecy.

These have been running since 1997.

The cases all involve claims that victims were abused both before and after the time that the cardinal, then secretary to the Bishop of Kilmore in Cavan and a canonical lawyer, interviewed two young boy victims of Smyth in 1975.

In the aftermath of the Sunday Independent revelations two weeks ago about the interviews and oaths, the cardinal said he "believed" the two victims he spoke to.

However, no action was taken against Brendan Smyth, who continued to rape and abuse children for at least another 15 years.

The stonewalling of the cases is a common thread, with at least 200 others being brought against the cardinal as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, some dating back to the mid-1990s when the issue of clerical abuse began to be highlighted in the media.

The victims and their legal representatives who experience the drawn-out defences of the Catholic Church are forbidden from speaking publicly by the State's strictly imposed sub-judice laws.

However, the concern and exasperation with the delays is visible in correspondence lodged in the High Court in some of the cases.

One solicitor representing a case involving alleged serious abuse by Smyth wrote to the cardinal's lawyers in September 2008 after almost 11 years of attempts to discover documents from the church and failure to bring the case to hearing.

One letter, dated September 25, 2008, says: "We note with surprise that we have not as yet heard from you with defence. As it is a year since last pleading we are now arranging to serve notice of intention to proceed and we require that your defence be delivered within 28 days of the date thereof.

"As in default we would propose to proceed by way of motion one month from the date of notice of intention to proceed. Your urgent and early attention would oblige."

After another year's delay the solicitor issued a notice of motion in the High Court last November. It read: "The plaintiff caused summons to be issued forth in the High Court of 29th day of September 1997 claiming damages including exemplary and punitive damages for personal injuries, loss and damage suffered and sustained by the plaintiff as a result of assaults, including sexual assaults, and battery by one Brendan Smyth deceased while a member of the first named defendant's order (Fr Gerard Cusack, head of the Norbertines) and under the control of the second named defendant (Cardinal Brady) and furthermore claims damages for breaches of certain undertakings and assurances given by the defendants."

This 13-year-old case involving a male victim who is now living outside the jurisdiction is still continuing. His solicitor declined to comment last week.

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