Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Seventh abuse claim against priest

GARDAÍ IN Cork have forwarded a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions following a complaint by a seventh woman that she was sexually abused by a priest in the Diocese of Cloyne more than 20 years ago.

The woman contacted gardaí investigating allegations of sexual abuse by a number of priests in the Diocese of Cloyne and gave a detailed statement in which she alleged she was sexually assaulted by a priest while he was a curate in north Cork.

The woman complained that the priest sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s, when she was in her early teens. 

Detectives have since interviewed the priest by arrangement and put the allegations to him.

A file has now been forwarded to the DPP in relation to the complaint. 

It brings to seven the number of women who have made complaints against the priest who is now in his early 70s and no longer involved in active ministry in the diocese.

To date, the DPP has decided in four of these cases that there should be no prosecution against the priest while a decision is pending in a further two cases. 

No decision is expected on the latest complaint for a number of months.

Meanwhile, the DPP has decided against a prosecution following a complaint against former bishop of Cloyne Dr John Magee that he endangered children by withholding information from gardaí examining allegations of child sexual abuse by another priest in the diocese.

The complaint was made in January 2009 by a retired north Cork teacher after reading a report by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church that examined the diocese’s handling of complaints against two priests identified as Fr A and Fr B.

The retired teacher made a formal complaint on foot of that report in which he alleged that Bishop Magee had endangered children by withholding information on Fr A from an earlier Garda investigation which he later made available to the board’s inquiry.

The complaint relates to diocesan files into an investigation carried out by Bishop Magee in February 2005 into a complaint by a priest in the diocese that he had been sexually abused as a teenager by another priest in the diocese whom he named as Fr A.

The teacher alleged that Bishop Magee’s failure to name Fr A and to make full diocesan files on the matter available to gardaí in November 2005 had effectively endangered children and that it was not until April 2008 that he made full files available to the board’s inquiry.

In December 2008, the board’s chief executive, Ian Elliott, published his report into the Diocese of Cloyne and criticised child protection practices in the diocese as inadequate and dangerous in that they potentially exposed vulnerable children to further harm.

However, the DPP has expressed reservations about the feasibility of proving beyond reasonable doubt the endangerment allegations against Bishop Magee and has decided against prosecuting the bishop, who retired from his position in March 2009.

SIC: IT/IE

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