Ex-Franciscan Brother guilty of exposing himself at Knock Shrine

Man (71) denies beckoning teenager to come into toilet cubicle, Castlebar court told

A former Franciscan Brother (71) has been found guilty of exposing his genitals and stimulating himself in front of an 18-year-old male teenager at Knock Shrine, Co Mayo.

Christopher McCarthy, Sharwood Estate, Newcastlewest, Co Limerick, denied the offences before Judge Alan Mitchell at Castlebar District Court on Wednesday. He also denied beckoning the teenager to come into a toilet cubicle although, in an earlier statement to gardaí, he admitted doing so.

The accused told the court he had travelled to Knock by bus on September 17th 2017 to celebrate the Feast Day of Padre Pio.

He admitted knocking on the door of the cubicle but said this was only because the other two cubicles were not very clean. He denied seeing the teen enter the toilet earlier.


Reporting restrictions were imposed by Judge Mitchell prohibiting the naming of the victim. However, the judge refused an application that McCarthy not be named in media coverage because of the “profound effect” on him.

Public toilet

The victim, who was 18 at the time, said he was in a public toilet when he heard “a soft knock” on the door .“Then I saw a foot, a brown shoe, coming under the door a couple of times.”

The witness said when he emerged from the cubicle he saw McCarthy, “stimulating himself and touching his genitals”.

“I was confused and in a state of disbelief over what was happening,” the said.

“I tried to hold the man by the coat until gardaí arrived. He told me he had a knife before he ran away. I chased him before contacting the gardaí.”

The witness said he felt disgusted over it and got flashbacks “because of the whole experience of being invited into a cubicle where a man was stimulating himself”.

The witness agreed the defendant’s trousers were not down but you “could see his genitals through his trousers and you could see he was sexually aroused”. He denied the defendant could have been scratching himself.

One of the investigating officers, Garda John Coen, told the court when that he met the complainant at the Shrine he was agitated and he calmed him down.

In his statement to gardaí, McCarthy denied he had been exposing himself and masturbating on the date in question. In court, McCarthy denied he had his hands down his tracksuit bottom stimulating himself. He denied beckoning the youth to come into the cubicle. He said he used to be a Franciscan Brother in Wales but left the Order some 30 years ago.

Judge Mitchell said the evidence of the injured party was the most credible. After finding the defendant guilty, the judge put back sentencing until later in the year to allow for the preparation of a Probation Report.

This article was edited for a correction on January 4th.