Priest returned for sex assault trial
A Dominican priest has been returned for trial by judge and jury on 39 counts of sexually assaulting a juvenile at various locations in Munster over an eight-year period.
Fr Vincent Mercer (66), who is out of ministry but remains a member of the Dominican Order, made his second appearance in relation to the charges today at Cork District Court.
He is charged with 39 counts of sexually assaulting the juvenile, who was aged between 11 and 17 at the time, on various dates between January 1st, 1986, and February 22nd, 1994.
The offences are alleged to have happened at a house in Cork city, a location in Co Limerick, a location in Co Cork and a number of unknown locations.
Insp Mary King said a book of evidence had been served on Fr Mercer by Det Garda James O’Shea on foot of the DPP’s direction that he be tried on indictment.
She applied to have him returned for trial by judge and jury to the next sitting of Cork Circuit Criminal Court on February 4th. Judge Con O’Leary granted the application.
Judge O'Leary remanded Fr Mercer on his own bond of €2,500 and imposed a number of bail conditions which Fr Mercer’s solicitor, Robert Eagar, said were acceptable to his client.
These included that Fr Mercer, who resides at the Dominican community at the Black Abbey in Kilkenny, sign on twice weekly at Kilkenny Garda station, on Tuesday and Fridays.
Judge O’Leary also made it a condition of Fr Mercer’s bail that he stay away from any school or other institution where children might gather, such as swimming pools or clubs.
The only exception was in the event of an institution within 100 yards of his residence at Black Abbey, in which case he may not loiter in the vicinity of any such institution.