Monday, January 06, 2014

Priest denies sexually abusing girl in Belfast parochial house former priest of St Matthew's Catholic Church in the Short Strand area of Belfast has denied sexually abusing a young female parishioner in the 1980s.
71-year old Peter Donnelly, from Drumaroad Hill in Castlewellan, appeared in the dock of Belfast Crown Court on Monday, accused of sexually assaulting the girl in the parochial house of the church over a period spanning from July 1982 to August 1987.

Donnelly has been charged with six counts of indecently assaulting the girl, and a further charge of gross indecency with a child. 

The pensioner denies all seven charges against him.

Opening the case against Donnelly, Crown prosecutor Kate McKay told a jury that the alleged abuse was carried out when the victim was aged around 10, up until her early teens.

Mrs McKay said the abuse started in the early 80s, when the priest used to hug her and put his arms around her, but this "progressed when he started to kiss and touch her physically."

The prosecutor told the court the woman recalled several incidents of abuse, including an incident which took place in the bedroom of the parochial house when she was forced to get onto a bed with the naked priest who then molested her. 

She claimed other incidents took place in the dining room and hallway of the east Belfast parochial house.

The court heard a complaint was made to the police in September 2010 and after the alleged victim attended a specialist PSNI unit established for people who claim to have been sexually abused, Donnelly was arrested.

He told police he didn't recognise her and "totally denied" sexually abusing her.

The case continues.

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