Monday, January 24, 2011

Garda move welcomed
Abuse complainants welcome Garda move
BARRY ROCHE, Southern Correspondent

Mon, Jan 24, 2011

THREE WOMEN who allege that they were sexually assaulted when teenagers by a priest in the diocese of Cloyne have welcomed a decision by the Garda to resubmit eight files of complaint against the priest to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Gardaí in north Cork investigating allegations of sexual abuse against the retired priest, who is now in his early 70s, compiled eight complaints made about him into one summary file and resubmitted it to the DPP shortly after Christmas.

The DPP had previously ruled that there should be no prosecution in seven of the eight cases and was still adjudicating on the eighth complaint, but yesterday three of the complainants expressed hope that the DPP would change his mind after seeing the file.

The priest, who was identified by Ian Elliott, chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, in his report on the diocese of Cloyne as Fr B, denied the various allegations when interviewed about them by the Garda.

One woman said it was “fantastic” to learn that gardaí had gone back over all eight cases and highlighted the similarities in the complaints made against the priest, who came into contact with them while ministering in parishes.

“The gardaí have advised us not to get our hopes up in case the DPP doesn’t change his mind, but what the gardaí have done is highlight the similarities in all our cases and there’s a clear pattern there in terms of how we were targeted and the actual abuse,” she added.

Another woman said she warmly welcomed the decision to resubmit the files in the form of a summary file and expressed hope that the DPP might direct a prosecution, as it had been very disheartening previously to learn there would not be one.

“I’d be delighted to see him having to answer to somebody,” she added.

“He will have to meet his maker some day but in the meantime, it would be great if he was brought to account for what he did to us and named and shamed so people can see him for what he really is.”

Another woman who made a complaint against the priest said that resubmitting the file would encourage others who may have been abused by the priest but were reluctant to come forward in the past to do so now.

It would give them hope that the man would be prosecuted.

“I know of two others who were abused by this priest, but they have decided not to make complaints because they don’t think there’s any point, given what happened our cases,” she said.

“Hopefully now the DPP will change his mind and it will encourage others to come forward.”

© 2011 The Irish Times

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