Monday, March 29, 2010

Cardinal Seán Brady urged to withdraw evidence in abuse court case

Cardinal Seán Brady urged to withdraw evidence in abuse court case
(Peter Muhly/AFP)
Cardinal Brady says the acts alleged are not grounds for suing him
David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent Recommend? The leader of Ireland’s Catholics, Cardinal Seán Brady, has been urged to withdraw his defence in a legal battle with one of the alleged victims of a paedophile priest.

The solicitor for the alleged victim of Father Brendan Smyth, a man who was 14 in 1975, said that he was “incredulous” at Cardinal Brady’s recent expressions of remorse given the primate’s defence in the legal proceedings.

The man is suing Cardinal Brady in the cardinal’s capacity as Archbishop of Armagh. He says that he was an altar boy in Dundalk in the early 1970s when Smyth sexually assaulted him in church, on a children’s holiday in County Cork and during a trip to Dublin for a Wombles concert.

In documents lodged in the High Court in Dublin, revealed this morning by RTÉ, the state broadcaster, the cardinal denies that the acts alleged are grounds for suing him and asks for proof that they happened.

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The documents also contest the man’s claims that Dr Brady is the Catholic Church’s representative in Ireland, that Smyth was his servant or agent and that the cardinal owed the man any duty of care.

The alleged victim says that he suffered appalling abuse and was traumatised by the experiences.

When he confided in another priest in Dundalk a church ecclesiastical court was convened to deal with the allegations. The church authorities assured the alleged victim and his father that Smyth would never be allowed near children again.

The alleged victim says that 19 years later, while out of the country, he received a telephone call from his sister to tell him that Smyth was on television after finally being brought to justice.

He says that as a consequence he began to drink heavily and suffer guilt for not protecting other children as well as experience nightmares about sexual abuse.

In the court papers the cardinal denies calling an ecclesiastical court and giving assurances to the man and his father that Smyth would be removed from the orbit of children.

While no names have been revealed, the alleged victim suing the cardinal was the same age as the boy whom the cardinal has already admitted he interviewed in 1975 about Smyth.

Cardinal Brady admitted that the boy was sworn to secrecy about his allegations.

In a St Patrick’s Day homily at Armagh Cathedral he described his response to the sexual abuse scandals as “hopelessly inadequate” and appealed for forgiveness and prayers.

He said that he would spend the rest of Lent considering his future. Campaigners for victims of sexual abuse are demanding that he resign, having lost his moral authority.

Last month, the alleged victim’s solicitor wrote to the cardinal’s lawyers, saying that the defence was compounding the grievous wrongs perpetrated against his client.

He said that it should be withdrawn to give practical expression to the cardinal’s recent statements of remorse about clerical sexual abuse.

In a statement today Cardinal Brady said that he wanted to "work towards a just resolution of the case... conscious of the rights of all concerned".

He said that he had asked his legal representatives to engage the legal representatives of the complainant with a view to progressing the case.

"As these matters are the subject of ongoing legal proceedings, and in light of the instructions I have given to my legal representatives today, it would be inappropriate for me to offer any further comment at this time," the Primate of All Ireland added.

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