Priest convicted of sexual abuse at Cork boarding school

Retired cleric admitted abusing ten boys but denied assaulting complainant in 1979

Today, a jury of ten men and two women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, unanimously found the retired priest guilty  after just two hours of deliberation.
 Photograph:
Alan Betson/The
Irish Times

Today, a jury of ten men and two women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, unanimously found the retired priest guilty after just two hours of deliberation. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

A retired priest has been remanded on bail for sentence after he was today convicted of sexually assaulting a pupil while teaching at a boarding school in Co Cork in the 1970s.

Fr Tadhg O’Dalaigh had denied a single charge of indecently assaulting a 16-year-old boy while teaching at Colaiste Chroi Naofa in Carrignavar, Co Cork on an unknown date in 1979.

The state alleged O’Dalaigh (70) indecently assaulted the boy by masturbating him while he was in sick bay in the boarding school on a date between March 1st and April 30th 1979.

Today, a jury of ten men and two women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, unanimously found O Dalaigh guilty of the sole charge after just two hours of deliberation.

Judge Donagh McDonagh remanded O’Dalaigh, a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, on bail for sentence for the offence on October 31st.

Earlier this week, O Dalaigh of Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin had pleaded guilty to five counts of indecently assaulting another boy at the school.

Judge McDonagh had earlier remanded O Dalaigh on bail to October 31st for sentence on those offences which occurred on dates between September 1st 1982 and April 1st 1983.

During his trial O Dalaigh told the jury of ten men and two women that he had abused ten boys while teaching at the school between 1969 and 1974 and again between 1977 and 1985

He said that he had given a list with the names of the boys he abused to his superiors after they confronted him in December 1995 about rumours that he had abused boys at the school.

But O’Dalaigh said that the complainant in the current case was not among the names of boys he abused that he gave his superiors as he had never abused the complainant.

“I would prefer to plead guilty (if it had happened) and move on, get the thing over and done with, but I did not, I did not touch him,” said O Dalaigh.

“I don’t know if he was abused or not (in Carriganavar) but I certainly did not abuse him. Maybe someone abused him but I certainly did not,” he added.

Cross-examined by prosecution barrister, Pearse Sreenan BL as to how he could remember whom he abused, O Dalaigh said he had not kept a diary but he did remember his victims.

“You would be conscious of being kind to them. It would not be the event ... it would be making efforts not to antagonise them in any way so they won’t make any complaint,” he said

O Dalaigh agreed with Mr Sreenan that his approach to dealing with his victims was “grooming” but he re-iterated that the complainant in the case was not among his victims.

The complainant, who is now in his 50s, told how he had been sent to the sick bay on the evening in question after complaining of a sore throat and he fell asleep in bed there.

He was the only boy in sick bay that night and he woke up to find O’Dalaigh with his hands under the bed clothes, rubbing his penis which was outside the fly of his pyjamas.

“I didn’t know what to do so I stayed still and I didn’t know what was going on and then what I did was I sat up and he stopped what he was doing,” said the complainant.

“Basically, he stopped when I ejaculated .. ... then he went away but he came back 30 minutes later with a glass of dispirin for me to drink, “ he added.

Cross-examined by defence counsel, Tom Creed SC if he could have been abused by someone else, the complainant said he was there and it was O’Dalaigh who abused him.

He said that he only made a complaint about it to gardai in 2012 after he contacted campaign group, One in Four following media coverage about abuse in the boarding school.

He had not been following the reports but his elderly mother produced cuttings about abuse at the school after it had been raised by Senator Mark Daly and he contacted Mr Daly.

Mr Daly had advised him to contact the HSE for counselling and he did but the waiting time was so long that he contacted One in Four who advised him to report the matter to gardai.

Asked by Mr Creed why he didn’t report the abuse at the time, the complainant said “I didn’t think I would be believed, it was a different time.”