Church of Ireland clergy express ‘concern’ after allegations of sexual assault at Dublin school

Investigations by gardaí and Tusla into alleged incident at King’s Hospital School

Bishop of Meath and Kildare Pat Storey, one of the board of governors at the school.

Bishop of Meath and Kildare Pat Storey, one of the board of governors at the school.

 

Church of Ireland clergy have expressed their “sincere concern” for a 13-year-old boy after allegations emerged he was sexually assaulted with a hockey stick by eight boys at a Dublin boarding school.

Gardaí and Tusla (the child and family agency) are investigating the alleged incident at the Church of Ireland-governed King’s Hospital in Palmerstown in West Dublin.

A statement released on behalf of Church of Ireland’s primate Archbishop Richard Clarke, the Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson and Bishop of Meath and Kildare Pat Storey on Thursday afternoon read: “Following news of an alleged sexual assault at the King’s Hospital School in today’s Irish Times, we express our sincere concern and offer our thoughts and prayers for the child and family at the centre of this incident. We trust that the process of investigation by the statutory authorities will bring about a just outcome, and we also pray for the wellbeing of the pupils and staff of the school at this difficult time.”

All three are on the school’s 24-strong board of governors.

The incident is alleged to have taken place late last Thursday night at the 450-year-old school, but it was not reported to the Garda, Tusla, or the Church of Ireland authorities until Tuesday.

Under child protection rules, people with knowledge of child abuse or neglect are expected to warn the authorities “without delay”, while reports should be made directly to gardaí if a child remains at immediate risk of danger.

Reacting to The Irish Times report, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork Paul Colton took to Facebook on Thursday morning to describe the allegations as “shocking on several levels. Horrific.”

Similarly, in a separate Facebook posting, the Church of Ireland rector of Celbridge, Co Kildare, Rev Stephen Neill remarked he had “no words” to respond to the nature of the allegations.

The eight alleged perpetrators remain suspended until investigations are completed. However, it is understood the 13-year-old alleged victim will remain on in King’s Hospital, with the agreement of his parents.

Following a series of questions posed over two days to the school, its principal John Rafter confirmed Tusla’s investigation on Wednesday: “No further statement will be made by the school at this time,” he said.

In February 2008, after a 10-year delay, King’s Hospital and Swim Ireland agreed to pay substantial damages to 13 female victims of convicted sex abuser Derry O’Rourke, who had been employed by the school as a swimming coach.

Under the settlement, 12 of the victims each received six-figure payments and costs against the school, while the remaining victim got a lesser sum. They had claimed the school was vicariously liable for O’Rourke’s actions and that he was employed by the school as its swimming coach and pool manager.

They said he was allowed remain on there for two decades after complaints were made about him to the school on several occasions from 1973. It was alleged the assaults on them by O’Rourke took place on dates from 1970 to 1994. The school denied liability.

Founded in 1669, the King’s Hospital is one of the oldest schools in Ireland with approximately 700 pupils, two thirds of whom are boarders. It is a co-educational five and seven day boarding and day school where annual fees range from €14,275 for five-day boarding to €15,580 for seven-day boarding. For day pupils, annual fees are €6,895.

There’s a 33 per cent discount for children of Church of Ireland clergy.

There are higher fees for overseas students, who are only accepted on a seven-day boarding basis. For those from EU countries, the annual fee is €18,696, and for those outside the EU it is €19,475.

Among well-known former King’s Hospital pupils are Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, RTÉ presenter Kathryn Thomas, singer Lisa Hannigan, the late actor Tom Murphy, and the late GAA president Jack Boothman.