Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ex-student priest jailed for rape of boy 35 years ago

Ex-student priest jailed for rape of boy 35 years ago
ANN HEALY in Galway

Wed, Jul 14, 2010

A FORMER Redemptorist student priest has been sentenced to five years in prison, with the final 2½ years suspended, for raping a 10- year-old boy in Galway city 35 years ago.

Gerard Cleere (55), a teacher and native of Kilkenny town, was extradited from England last November, where he had been living at a Leicester halfway house for sex offenders, to stand trial in Galway.

He fought the extradition warrant and lost his appeal against it, which Garda Insp Michael Coppinger executed on November 6th, 2009, in Leicester.

Cleere denied he buggered the child in Galway on a single unknown date between January 1st, 1973, and December 30th, 1974, but he did plead guilty at his two-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court in April to indecently assaulting the child.

A jury found him guilty of the more serious charge of buggery, and sentencing was adjourned to yesterday.

Insp Coppinger told the sentencing hearing the victim, now 46, had been deeply traumatised by the assault.

His marriage had failed, as did a subsequent relationship, and he had resorted to alcohol to block out the incident’s aftermath.

The two-day trial in April heard evidence that Cleere had been a first-year probationary priest at the Redemptorist monastery at Cluain Mhuire, Mervue, in Galway city, between 1972 and 1973, and had worn the long black cassock dress which priests then wore.

He had befriended the boy while watching him play with his friends at a handball alley owned by the monastery. He started calling to the boy’s home nearby, where he ingratiated himself with the boy’s parents.

The trial heard Cleere left the monastery after a year, but kept writing to the boy’s family. He called to their home unexpectedly a year later and sexually assaulted the boy after finding him home alone.

The court heard Cleere worked as a care assistant in John of God psychiatric hospital in Dublin for a time before going to England, where he became a psychiatric nurse and later a teacher, holding down a number of teaching posts at various schools.

The inspector said Cleere had a previous conviction for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy while teaching in England and he had received a two-year sentence on August 2nd, 2004, for that offence, with 18 months of post-release supervision.

He had been placed on the sex offenders register there and ordered never to work with children again.

The sexual abuse of the British boy took place after Cleere told the child’s parents he would give him extra tuition for his exams. Cleere took photographs of the boy at various stages of undress. He rubbed him with baby oil and would make him lick cream off his fingers.

He also tried to digitally penetrate the boy and told him not to tell anyone or they would both go to prison.

A report handed into court from Senior Const John Norton of the Leicester Public Protection Management Team stated that Cleere was “highly manipulative” of parents, guardians and children, and that concerns of him reoffending still remained.

However, reports from a forensic psychiatrist and a counsellor disagreed, stating Cleere posed a “reduced risk of reoffending”.

The counsellor had found that Cleere was homosexual and had been in denial about his sexual orientation all of his life, even entering into a brief marriage in the 1990s.

Given Cleere’s conviction in England subsequent to the Galway offence committed in the 1970s, Judge Raymond Groarke concluded the British policeman might be correct.

He sentenced Cleere to five years in prison for the buggery charge and imposed a concurrent four-year sentence on him for indecent assault.

Judge Groarke suspended the final 2½ years of the sentence on condition that Cleere keep the peace for three years, and on his undertaking to the court never to work with or in the vicinity of children ever again.

He was also placed on the sex offenders register here for life.

After sentencing, the victim, who was accompanied in court by his family, said he was happy it was all over.

“He got what he deserves,” he added.

© 2010 The Irish Times

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