Thursday, December 08, 2016

Woman alleges sex activity with chaplain at Christmas

A woman who claims she was sexually abused by a school chaplain in the South East when she was a secondary school student yesterday told the High Court how she met him in his car one Christmas Eve and sexual activity took place.

The now 28-year-old said she was in transition year or fifth year at the time and the chaplain gave her a teddy as a Christmas present.

It was the fourth day of case where she is suing for damages alleging between 2004 and 2007 she was repeatedly and wrongfully physically and sexually assaulted, falsely imprisoned and sexually abused and subjected to sexualised behaviour by the then Catholic chaplain and teacher in her secondary school. 

She has sued the priest as well as the school and the local bishop. 

They have all denied the claims. 

The school contends it is not vicariously liable for alleged actions of the priest and contends the diocesan bishop is liable. 

The woman is also seeking aggravated damages against the ex-priest, who denies all claims.

Under cross-examination yesterday by Miriam Reilly, counsel for the former priest, the woman, referring to a school trip to Gambia, said the priest was drinking vodka and she and another student she alleged were invited into his room and played Jenga. 

She said she fell asleep on his bed and when she woke up the chaplain was beside her. 

She said she and the other girl left the chaplain’s room at 6am. 

Ms Reilly put it to the woman the chaplain would say there was no question of him slipping off with the girls and messing in his room. She replied “I disagree with that”.

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She told the court she and her friend had earlier, as a joke, been in the chaplain’s room put on his clothes and shaving cream and another older priest from the diocese told them to leave.

The chaplain, she said, sat beside her on the trip home from Gambia and she said he told her a story of how once he came back to his house in another diocese to find a housekeeper naked on a rug. She said she thought that story and another where she alleged he said he had sex with a woman in a car in the Phoenix Park were “weird”.

She said she did not know if the stories were true or not and she did not tell anybody about them.

Counsel put it to her the former priest will tell the court he said no such thing. 

The woman replied he told her the stories.

Earlier, the woman said she had lived two lives, one in which she had good academic results and a good job and a second life where she could not tell anybody.

“He was very well liked and regarded and everybody looked up to him,” she said.

She said she did not feel in a position to tell her parents until 2010 when she returned from a trip abroad where she had visited her two sisters and told them. “It was a big secret I carried around for years.” she said.

Counsel put it to her the former priest will say there was no sexual relationship and her crush on him turned obsessive. 

She replied: “I do not agree with that.”

The case continues today.

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