A former pupil at Rockwell College has claimed he was raped by a priest in the college church and spent his days in the college “under a cloud of fear”.
When aged 14, David* (not his real name) claims he was raped in the school church by Fr Henry Moloney and was sexually assaulted by him on two other occasions, it is claimed.
He has taken High Court proceedings against a nominee of the Irish Province of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit - the Spiritans - alleging he was subject to assault, sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment, trespass to the person, and intentional infliction of emotional harm, due to negligence and breach of duty, including fiduciary duty, on the part of the order, its servants and agents.
As a result, he suffered severe personal injuries, both physical and psychological, mental distress, damage and loss, it is claimed.It is alleged the Spiritans, who ran the college, knew, or should have known, that Moloney - who died last year and was a member of the Congregation until 2014 - “had a proclivity towards the sexual abuse of minors” but took no, or no adequate, measures to protect pupils.
Moloney, it is claimed, was moved from one place to another following repeated allegations of sexual abuse by him dating back to the 1960s.
Moloney was convicted in 2000 for sexually assaulting two boys at St Mary’s College between 1969 and 1973. He was moved in 1973 to an elite school run by the Spiritans in Sierra Leone where he was also said to have abused boys. In 1979, he was appointed to Blackrock College in Dublin before being removed to Rockwell in 1980 where he remained until removed in 1996 and put under strict supervision.
In 2009, Moloney was convicted of abusing two other boys at St Mary’s College between 1969 and 1973 and in 2015 was convicted of abusing another boy at Rockwell. He left the priesthood about seven years before his death.
In his action, David says his life was devastated by the abuse he suffered and it caused him to feel such a deep sense of guilt and shame he was unable to tell anyone about it until he went for counselling after his father’s death in 2020.
He claims he deals on a daily basis with anxiety, depression, a very negative self-concept and self-esteem, disordered sleep and eating patterns, and requires medication for cardiac issues.
The case was initiated earlier this year and a statement of claim has been served. A defence has not yet been served.
David went to Rockwell in Co Tipperary in 1986 as a third year residential boarder. On his third day, he claims he was punched in the stomach by a teacher over being late for class. On another occasion, a dormitory master struck him on his rear with a leather strap while he was sleeping.
He was in the music prefab playing the piano one day in September/October 1986 when Moloney came in, put his hands on his shoulders, asked him his name, how he was getting on and whether he had brothers at the school, he says. He replied he had no brothers there and told the priest about a recent episode where he had been beaten up by three boys.
Moloney told him he would “look after him” and check up on the boys who had beaten him before hugging him and leaving, David says.
Some weeks later, he was again playing the piano when Moloney came in, sat down beside him and sexually assaulted him through his clothing, David claims. After Moloney left, David says he was “numb with shock”.
Around Christmas 1986, after he met Moloney on a corridor, the priest said “I have a treat for you” and brought him to the church where he sat him down at the organ in the gallery, David says. He thought of pressing down on one of the organ paddles in a bid to alert someone to his presence but was nervous of repercussions if he did so.
The priest, he claims, moved him around to the back of the organ, trapped him in a corner and raped him, continually telling him: “This is between you and me.” David says he suffered extreme pain then and for days afterwards.
Moloney sexually assaulted him on another occasion, some weeks after Christmas 1986, after taking him to the arts and crafts building in Rockwell, he claims. While he managed for the remainder of his two years there to avoid Moloney by spending a lot of time with other boys, he remained in fear and was very unhappy.
He once went to the principal, Fr James Hurley, “as a last resort” and told him he was having trouble without explicitly explaining the abuse by Fr Moloney and Fr Hurley reassured him, he says. He ran away home once but was returned to Rockwell after a few weeks.
David told The Irish Times he supports calls for a statutory inquiry into allegations by more than 200 people of historic abuse against 77 Irish Spiritans here and overseas, and into the handling by the congregation of those allegations.
A Garda investigation into his allegations against Moloney was underway when the latter died, he said.