Cardinal settles with abuse victim

 

A settlement has been agreed by Cardinal Seán Brady with a Co Louth man who was one of two teenagers he swore to secrecy in 1975 following his investigation into their allegations of abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth.

Brendan Boland (50) sued Dr Brady, the diocese of Kilmore and Smyth’s Norbertine Order.

The settlement was concluded in the High Court this morning.

Speaking after the settlement was announced, Mr Boland revealed that guilt plagued him when he heard Smyth, now dead, had continued to abuse children for years after he made a statement to three priests, including a then Fr Brady.

“I was devastated by this revelation,” he said in a handwritten statement given outside the court.

“The fact that Fr Smyth has been allowed to prey upon and abuse other children, subsequent to the assurances having being given, was very hard to bear," he said. "I felt I had not done enough. I felt responsible for the misery of Fr Smyth’s subsequent victims. My guilt plagued me.”

Mr Boland was sexually abused for two years by Smyth. It started in 1973 when he was just 12 years old.

He said that after he confided in a young priest, he was interrogated by three clerics conducting an Ecclesiastical Court - including Fr Brady - without his father present, and was required to swear on oath that he would not talk about the interview with anyone but an authorised priest.

“My parents, who were good God-fearing people, and I were assured that Fr Brendan Smyth would not be allowed to associate with young boys and girls and that there would be no recurrence of the abuse which I and other victims had suffered,” he said.

“As a result of these assurances, I felt safer and I hoped that the assurances would mean that others would not suffer as I had.”

It was not until 1994 that Smyth was convicted in a Belfast court of 17 counts of sexual abuse. Three years later in Dublin, he pleaded guilty to another 74 counts of child sexual abuse. Smyth died in prison in 1997.

Cardinal Brady dismissed several calls for resignation last year over his handling of abuse allegations after Ms McCormack’s case hit the headlines.

Mr Boland said the senior cleric also strenuously defended the case against him until the last minute, which was a considerable ordeal for abuse survivors.

Legal proceedings against Fr Gerard Cusack, as abbot of the Norbertine Order, were settled in 2005.

“While the cardinal has indicated he will meet me privately, I am most disappointed that he has refused, even through his lawyers in court, to publicly acknowledge and accept the failings of the Church in its handling of the circumstances giving rise to this case and to apologise for them and give an assurance that they will not be repeated,” said Mr Boland.

“I hope that the Catholic Church will learn to show true compassion for all victims of clerical sexual abuse and withdraw all technical legal defence obstacles and ploys and make just offers of compensation where appropriate.”

In June 2010, the Norbertine Order reached an out-of-court settlement, said to be worth more than €250,000, with another teenager abused by Smyth.

Following the disclosures, Cardinal Brady said he had done his duty by informing his then bishop of Smyth’s abuse. He was not the designated authority to report to the Garda and Smyth’s Norbertine Order was responsible for the priest after removal of his priestly functions in Kilmore and other dioceses, he said.

Marie McCormack sued the cardinal as well as the diocese of Kilmore and the Norbertine Order. It followed her being sexually abused by Smyth between 1970 and 1975. The settlement was made without admission of liability and included apologies by the defendants.

It was the High Court action by Ms McCormack which led to disclosures in March 2010 that Cardinal Brady had been involved in canonical investigations into abuse allegations against Smyth in 1975 which involved two young people. He believed both of them at the time and swore them to secrecy at the end of his inquiry in Kilmore diocese.

Ms McCormack, who lives in Canada, said after the settlement that 35 years after the abuse, her marriage and quality of life had been greatly affected by the trauma she suffered, which began when she was 14 and continued until she was 20.

Additional reporting: PA