Retired priest cleared of indecent assault on boy in 1970s

After a two day trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court the jury reached an unanimous decision

A retired priest (83) has been found not guilty on two counts of indecently assaulting a teenage boy in a Cork school during the 1970s.

A retired priest (83) has been found not guilty on two counts of indecently assaulting a teenage boy in a Cork school during the 1970s.

 

A retired priest (83) has been found not guilty on two counts of indecently assaulting a teenage boy in a Cork school during the 1970s.

The jury made the unanimous decision on Friday after a two day trial at the Cork Circuit Criminal court.

The cleric, who can not be named for legal reasons, had denied one count of indecently assaulting the boy between September 1975 and June 1976, and a second count of indecently assaulting the boy between November and December 1976.

The complainant told the court that the first assault happened when he was 14-years-old and had started second year.

Cross-examined by defence counsel Tom Creed SC, the complainant agreed he had never told his parents or his older brothers who were also pupils at the school primarily out of fear but also out of shame and even today, he had not told his brothers what had happened to him.

“I was in fear - I was a young boy of 14 years of age - I certainly wasn’t going to tell my parents,” the complainant said, adding that at the time the priest was a teacher at the school where staff had complete control over the pupils.

“They had total control and power over you,” he said.

The priest took the witness stand and said that he had “most definitely not” ever indecently assaulted the complainant, saying that he had acted like “a father to the children” as best his could following the example of his “own dear father”.

Cross-examined by prosecution barrister Don McCarthy BL on why the complainant would be making these allegations 40 years later other than because he was honestly stating what had happened, the priest replied: “What motivation he has I cannot answer that question, naturally.”

The trial before a jury of nine men and three women and Judge Gerard O’Brien also heard defence evidence from three former pupils of the school that they found the priest to a strict but dedicated teacher who was passionate about teaching and sport.