Brazilian police and Garda work to bring ex-priest to justice
Brazil deported him following false declaration in application for residency
By 2003 gardaí from the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit at Harcourt Square in Dublin had spent more than 18 months investigating allegations against Peter Kennedy. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire
A former missionary priest Peter Kennedy (74), who also worked on a locum basis in parishes around Ireland, was responsible for one of the largest ever settlements in a clerical child sex abuse case in the State.
In July 2003 one of his victims was awarded €325,000 in a High Court settlement with the St Patrick’s Missionary Society. He was a member of that congregation, based at Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, until he was laicised in 2003.
He was removed from active ministry in the 1980s following persistent complaints of sexual abuse against him dating back to the 1960s, when he was a missionary priest in Africa. In the late 1980s he moved to London, where he continued to be under the supervision of the St Patrick’s Society. He worked as a taxi driver.
Following publicity over the 2003 High Court settlement in Dublin he left London on a British passport and flew to São Paulo in Brazil where he taught English to adults.
By 2003 gardaí from the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit at Harcourt Square in Dublin had spent more than 18 months investigating allegations against him, and a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
As Brazil and Ireland do not have an extradition treaty, federal police there were unable to act against him. However, aware of the Garda investigation in Ireland, they kept an eye on Kennedy but moved cautiously lest he use judicial means to stall or end attempts at his deportation.
However, Kennedy applied for permanent residence and signed a declaration affirming he did not have a criminal background in his home country nor were there any judicial processes against him there. Knowing this was untrue Brazilian police confronted Kennedy on St Stephen’s Day, 2011. They deported him to London and in January last year he was returned to Ireland. He has been in custody since. His 10-year sentence yesterday was backdated to the date of his deportation from São Paolo, December 26th, 2011.