Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Accused priest had access to primary schools

A priest who had access to all primary schools in the Kerry diocese, as diocesan inspector, in the 1950s and 60s has 25 allegations of abuse levelled against him, with more expected. 

The priest, who had contact with thousands of children in their classrooms, died more than 30 years ago and it was a decade later before a complaint was made.

In 2009, an independent consultant produced a review for the diocese and recommended outreach work for the priest’s victims known at the time. He also recommended the case be reviewed.

But, the Review of Safeguarding Practice in the Diocese of Kerry published yesterday did not find any evidence of that being done.

Bishop Ray Browne, who declined to name the diocesan inspector involved, encouraged survivors from the era to come forward and the diocese may also put additional resources in place if a lot of people seek support.

Another case highlighted in the review concerns a priest (also unnamed) who had been dismissed at his own request and who took up a job where he would have contact with children in another part of the country.

Four complaints had been made that he had seriously sexually abused children who were in care in a children’s home in Kerry in the 1970s, and to which he had access at the manager’s invitation. Gardaí investigated, but the DPP decided not to prosecute.

Another Kerry priest who was jailed for the sexual abuse of at least nine children, in 1997, had been complained to a previous bishop, but no record was found in the files following the bishop’s death.

Meanwhile, stricter vetting procedures have been put in place for visiting priests and priests retiring to Kerry, who will need a clearance certificate from their previous dioceses before they are allowed minister.

Cases of priests retiring to the diocese and against whom allegations had been made about abuse in their previous locations, often overseas, are mentioned in the review.

There are currently two such priests in the diocese, according to the review. One has a single allegation against him. The second has a number, including some since his arrival in Kerry.

In the case of the second, the review said insufficient information had been provided to the Diocese of Kerry by his overseas bishop, even though records indicated he had abused a large number of boys in a primary school in which he had been working.

He had been allowed by a previous Kerry bishop to cover for priests who were on holidays, but the gardaí and the HSE have since been notified and he is no longer allowed carry out any ministry in Kerry.

An allegation has also been made against a third priest who regularly visits Kerry.

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