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Man guilty of false sex abuse claim against priest

Added on June 7, 2007

Thu, Jun 07, 2007

A south inner city man who falsely alleged he was buggered by a priest giving him prayer tuition for his First Holy Communion has been remanded in custody for sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The 34-year-old man was found guilty by a jury of making a false statement to Det Garda Brian Kavanagh at Kevin Street Garda station, Dublin on June 18th, 2003, that acts of indecent assault and buggery were committed on him by the priest in the period February to May 1981.

Judge Patricia Ryan made an order prohibiting publication of his name after his counsel, Damian Colgan, objected to his client being identified when the priest was not being named.

Judge Ryan had been told by prosecuting counsel, Dominic McGinn, that the priest had no objection to the convicted man's name being published but didn't want his own name published.

The jury returned its 10-2 majority guilty verdict after it had been deliberating for almost six hours, having spent one night in a hotel.

The priest told Mr McGinn he nearly "died of fright" when Cardinal Desmond Connell, then archbishop of Dublin, informed him that allegations of child sexual abuse had been made against him. He said he found the allegations "repulsive" and the whole situation "very difficult".

He had to withdraw immediately from parish duties and it was several months before he was told by garda? that they had found no evidence to support his accuser's allegations.

Under cross-examination, the priest repeated that he "absolutely" had not abused and buggered the then six-year-old boy and that his allegations were "appalling".

The jury, which had viewed a video-recording of an interview in which the man told garda? his allegations were not true and in which he apologised to the priest for making them, heard him repeat in both his direct evidence and his cross-examination that he had been sexually abused while his mother was outside the room.

He said the priest buggered him on his fourth visit and later tried to orally rape him. He said he had not told his mother about it for 23 years.

He also claimed in evidence that garda? ordered him to make the video-recorded "admissions" and said he just wanted to get home from the Garda station, although he agreed when cross-examined that he would have had to be released from Garda custody about 25-30 minutes later in any case.

He denied saying to Det Sgts Martin Mooney and Maura Walsh and Det Garda Niamh Guckian: "I thought of the story first and then the priest's name."

He agreed his car had been repossessed and he was ?9,000 in debt when he first made the allegations but denied he had planned to sue the priest, a nun he claimed sent him to the priest and a Christian Brother.

He also admitted he had never been sexually abused by any Brother. It was established in evidence that neither the priest's accuser nor any other pupil from his school had ever been sent to the priest for Holy Communion prayer tuition.

? 2007 The Irish Times

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