Disabled boys abused by garda at scout camps
A former garda and scout master abused young boys when he was in charge of a special scout troop for disabled children, a court has heard.
The evidence was heard at Limerick Circuit Court yesterday where John Dunne, formerly based at Pearse Street Garda station in Dublin, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of indecent assault on boys in Dublin between 1963 and 1969.
The court heard that two of Dunne’s victims were polio sufferrers whom he groomed through his work with a group of disabled scouts.
Dunne (82), Canon Breen Park, Thomondgate, Limerick, indecently assaulted two of his victims at Pearse Street Garda station, where he worked as juvenile liaison officer, while other indecent assaults took place at scout camps in Dublin and Waterford and in his car, after he dropped the boys home from scout meetings.
Garda Sgt Martin Philips from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Harcourt Square, Dublin, said Dunne resigned from the Garda Síochána in 1976 when he was the subject of an allegation of indecency, but no charges were brought.
A native of Limerick city, Dunne was a scout master from 1953 to 1976 and involved with a special group for disabled children at a scout hall near Pearse Street known as Westland Row.
Judge Carroll Moran was told the sexual abuse first came to light following the publication of the Ryan report in 2009 when one of Dunne’s victim’s contacted gardaí.
In his victim impact statement, the now 58-year-old, who contracted polio when he was six months old, recalled meeting Dunne while on a train to Knock with the Polio Fellowship of Ireland.
He said the former garda was the scout leader with a group of disabled scouts from Dublin and he invited the 10-year-old to join the troop when they got back to Dublin.
The victim said he was first abused by Dunne during an overnight stay in the scout den. He also recalled incidents of abuse where he was kissed and fondled by the former garda during a trip to the cinema and on another occasion in the Phoenix Park, when he was giving him a lift home from the scouts.
“Jack Dunne was in a position of trust, he was a scout leader, a garda, a person of power. He abused that power and hid behind his so-called good works. I now see him as a bad person who used that trust and his position to gain access to young boys,” the victim said.
Another victim (56) told the court that he met Dunne when he was in hospital with polio which he contracted when he was two years old.
In his victim impact statement, he called the former garda a paedophile. He claimed Dunne had visited a particular ward at a children’s hospital in Dublin “especially to recruit new victims”.
He said he was abused by Dunne in his car just a few doors from his home in Dublin, in Pearse Street Garda station and at the annual scout camp.
“He [Dunne] had free access everywhere he went, nobody questioned his word . . . he was seen as the good garda looking after the poor little handicapped kids,” he said.
The court heard Dunne met his two other victims, brothers from Dublin, at a swimming gala organised by the scouts.
Dunne brought one of the boys to play snooker in a room on the top of Pearse Street station, cooked him a fry and then abused him.
Mark Nicholas, defending, said his client’s behaviour was “disgraceful and unforgiveable” but said Dunne, who joined a religious order after he left the Garda, had sought help for his problems in America 20 years ago.
The court heard he joined the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament in 1977; following advice from his superiors he sought help for his problems at Trinity House in Chicago in 1992.
Judge Moran was told Dunne had one previous conviction for indecent assault on a 12-year-old boy in 1986, for which he received the Probation Act.
He adjourned sentencing until January 18th.