Saturday, December 31, 2011

Priest accused of abuse may be extradited to Ireland next week

AN Irish priest facing multiple charges of child sex abuse may be back in Ireland as early as next week after he was deported from Brazil to England on St Stephen’s Day.

Gardaí are expected to bring charges against Fr Peter Kennedy as soon as he is extradited from Britain.

Up to 18 people have made statements alleging that Fr Kennedy sexually abused them, and the Director of Public Prosecutions has ordered that prosecutions be brought against him.

The suicides of two young men were also examined as part of the garda investigation.

It is now up to the 72-year-old priest as to whether or not he fights the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) or accepts it.

If he tells a London court next week that he will comply with the warrant he will be flown to Dublin.

But if the Kiltegan Father missionary fights the warrant, his extradition hearing may not be heard for a number of months.

The dramatic developments came after Brazilian authorities deported the priest, who had been living in the country for the last eight years.

He fled to Brazil on a British passport in 2003, the year in which he was exposed as the priest at the centre of a major abuse scandal.

It emerged that one of his victims had been awarded €325,000 in a High Court settlement with the Kiltegan Fathers, also known as the St Patrick’s Missionary Society, based in Co Wicklow.

The sum was paid to Brendan Shannon arising out of allegations that in 1982 Fr Kennedy abused the then 13-year-old at his home in Clonloo, Co Sligo.

The abuse happened over a number of months when the boy’s father was dying of cancer and was being cared for at home. Some of the abuse occurred in the room where his father lay ill.

It is understood Fr Kennedy fled to Britain some years after that, where he worked as a taxi driver until he fled to Brazil. Fr Kennedy settled in Osasco, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, where he began teaching English.

Brazilian media reported that police there had been following the priest’s movements for the last four months.

On Monday they moved on the basis that Fr Kennedy’s documents to stay in the country were not in order and he was deported back to Britain.

Gardaí said he was arrested in London by British authorities on foot of an EAW issued by the Irish courts last year.

This warrant had been issued in the eventuality that Fr Kennedy ever arrived in any EU country.

He is being held in custody and is due up before the City of Westminster Magistrates Court on January 5.

"The ball is in his court," said a garda source, "whether he fights the warrant or volunteers to come home. If he fights, it could be a couple of months for a hearing."

If and when Fr Kennedy arrives back, gardaí are expected to take him to Dublin District Court and bring charges against him.

It is understood the charges relate to offences that occurred over a number of years after 1984.