Commission findings: 13 people in report
“Fr Ronat”, the priest at the centre of redacted elements of the Cloyne report published yesterday has faced complaints from 13 people. Four were young adults when the alleged abuse took place while the rest concerned child abuse. All who were allegedly abused by Fr Ronat as well as the priest himself were given pseudonyms in the report.
- The first complaint against the priest was made in 1989 by “Ailis”. Ailis died in 2006. Her initial complaint was not acted on by the priest to whom she spoke. In January 1995 she and her parents met Bishop Magee.
She told him she had been sexually abused by Fr Ronat between the ages of 15 and 19 and that other young girls and mature women had also been abused. She said Fr Ronat gave her wine to drink. In a statement to gardaí in 2005 Ailis said that Bishop Magee told her at the time he believed her and was sorry for what had happened to her.
However, the commission concluded that the diocese was “largely concerned with providing reasons why this might not be classified as child sexual abuse. It also, notably, seeks to lay the blame for what occurred on Ailis.”
Its view was that the actions of the Cloyne advisory committee “in this case do not show concern for the protection of children”.
- The second complaint involved a mother, “Bretta”, who made allegations in September 1996 that her son “Matthew” had been abused by Fr Ronat. The Cloyne delegate with responsibility for dealing with child protection, Msgr Denis O’Callaghan, did not consider it child abuse. In 2003 Matthew himself came forward alleging child abuse.
- In 1997 “Caelan” alleged to the diocese that she had been abused by Fr Ronat when attending a retreat between 1979 and 1981. She alleged he conducted confessions in a bedroom and that she was instructed by him to lie on the bed. He then touched her and made reference to “the heat of the Holy Spirit” descending upon her, as it is put in the Cloyne report.
The commission concluded that Msgr O’Callaghan “clearly believed Caelan”. He and Bishop Magee wrote to Fr Ronat advising him not to visit schools or have young people in his house. He continued to “operate as a priest . . .”
- The fourth and fifth complainants were “Donelle” and “Edana”. Donelle first contacted a parish priest in the diocese to complain in 1999/2000 that Fr Ronat was “a very dangerous man”. She was told not to be wasting his (parish priest’s) time, before he put the phone down on her. She told Bishop Magee, who could not recall this, while the parish priest denied receiving the phone call. In October 2005 she contacted the gardaí and in late 2005 she told another priest, who told Msgr O’Callaghan.
In 2004 “Edana” told a nun she had been abused by Fr Ronat when she was between 15 and 17, in around 1981/2. The nun told Msgr O’Callaghan. On November 25th, 2005, Bishop Magee withdrew Fr Ronat’s faculties to minister. He was not asked to stop wearing clerical dress until 2008. No public announcement was made so very few were aware of Fr Ronat’s changed status.
- In November 2005 an unidentified woman rang Msgr O’Callaghan alleging abuse by Fr Ronat when she was 18. She refused to give her name.
- In January 2009 “Fenella” came forward to complain she had been abused by Fr Ronat in 1990 when she was 21 and in a novitiate preparing to be a nun.
At the end of that month an anonymous complaint of sexual abuse by Fr Ronat was received by the diocese.
- In February 2009 “Keita” came forward to the diocese and the gardaí alleging she had been abused by Fr Ronat in 1973 at the age of 15 and suggested hypnosis was involved.
- In May 2000 “Muirin” complained she had been abused by Fr Ronat when she was about 14 while in June 2009
- “Naveen” complained to the gardaí that she had been abused by him when she was about 16.
- An adult complainant came forward in 2009 and in 2010 the commission was told by the gardaí that yet another woman had alleged to them she had been abused by Fr Ronat as a child.
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