Wicklow priest jailed for ‘systematically’ abusing boy
Former parish priest Denis Nolan (61) abused child for five years from age of 12
Denis Nolan (61) with an address in Tinahely, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a date between January 1st, 2007, and June 30th, 2007. Photograph: Frank Miller /The Irish Times
A Wicklow priest was jailed yesterday for seven years when he was convicted of ‘systematically’ sexually abusing a boy over five years starting when the boy was 12 years old.
Denis Nolan (61) with an address in Tinahely, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a date between January 1st, 2007, and June 30th, 2007.
He also pleaded guilty to five counts of defilement of a child under the age of 15 years between July 1st, 2007, and August 25th, 2009, and five counts of defilement of a child under the age of 17 between August 26th, 2009, and August 25th, 2011.
All defilement charges occurred in the Presbytery, Rathnew where Nolan was curate at the time. The victim, who is now 19, waived his right to anonymity.
Det Sgt Fergus O’Brien told the court that when the victim was 12, he approached Nolan with a view to carrying out some odd jobs to gain extra money.
After he started doing odd jobs in the presbytery, Nolan asked him to go to his family home in Tinahely and there assaulted him.
Nolan told him it was “what adults do” and not to tell anyone. On arrival back in Rathnew, he gave him €10 and €15 after abuse in the presbytery and then €40 as the abuse escalated.
When the child’s mother confronted Nolan, he said he had been giving him money because he was afraid of her son.
The HSE also visited Nolan in March 2010 and told him that if there was any contact between him and the victim he was to inform them. However, he didn’t contact them again and the sexual abuse continued.
‘Position of trust’
Judge Michael O’Shea said Nolan was in a “position of trust” and “should have been a protector [of the young boy] and not a predator. He was just a child – innocent in the ways of the world”.
He said the victim was “exploited by the systematic sexual abuse”, adding the victim impact report was harrowing in the effect the abuse had had on the young man in question.
“I describe the abuse and defilement as being disgusting, horrific, embarrassing and humiliating,” he said, adding that the abuse was “cold and calculating”.
He sentenced Nolan to seven years in prison for each of the five charges of defilement of a child under the age of 15 years and 3½ years on each of the remaining six charges, with the sentences running concurrently.
Nolan, who is already on the sex offenders register, is to have three years post-release supervision.
Leave to appeal was refused.
l Archbishop apologises to victim
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and others involved in child safeguarding and protection in the diocese are distressed by the details of this case as they emerged in court , a statement from the archbishop said last night.
“Archbishop Martin wishes to express his sympathy to the young person who was abused and to unreservedly apologise to him and his family. He encourages anyone else who may have information to come forward.”
The statement said “A complaint of child sexual abuse against Fr Denis Nolan, not related today’s proceedings, was first received by the Archdiocese of Dublin in April 2012. Fr Nolan was then removed from priestly ministry.
“He was obliged to co-operate and engage with the diocesan priest support co-ordinator, who monitors priests in such situations to ensure compliance with restrictions placed on their activities. All information received by the diocese was given to the Gardaí and the HSE.
“Subsequently, the director for child safeguarding and protection, Andrew Fagan visited the parish of Rathnew and met with parishioners and others in the local community. All relevant information from that visit was provided to the gardaí and the HSE. A thorough investigation by the gardaí led to the conviction today.”
Religious Affairs Correspondent