Priest acquitted on direction of judge of sexual assault on teenager in 1980s

Fr Maeliosa O Hauallachain (72), of Seafield Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, has been found not guilty by direction of the judge of three charges of indecent assault on a then teenage girl between 1981 and 1982.

Fr Maeliosa O Hauallachain (72), of Seafield Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, has been found not guilty by direction of the judge of three charges of indecent assault on a then teenage girl between 1981 and 1982.

 

A PRIEST accused of sexually assaulting a Co Louth teenager has been acquitted by direction of the trial judge after he ruled that the inadmissibility of the woman’s psychiatric notes was prejudicial to the defence.

Fr Maeliosa O Hauallachain (72) of Seafield Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to three charges of indecent assault between July 1981 and August 1982 when the complainant was between 13 and 14 years old. It was day four of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Frank O’Donnell had earlier ruled that the case notes from a consultant psychiatrist, who treated the woman for 10 years, could not be allowed as evidence as the doctor died last year.

The judge told the jury that the defendant was “deprived of exploring all avenues because a consultant psychiatrist’s case notes could not be produced in evidence”.

“The evidence was as such that the main consultant psychiatrist who treated the complainant cannot attend court as he has died and there had been some concerns that some of the notes made by him were still outstanding,” Judge O’Donnell said.

He told the jury there had been a suggestion in some of the notes that the complainant may have had a mental condition that could have created certain delusions “but this was an avenue that the defence could not go down”.

He discharged Fr O Hauallachain from the indictment and told him he was free to go.

Judge O’Donnell made his ruling following legal submissions from defence counsel Hugh Hartnett SC after the prosecution had completed its evidence.

“I accept that the complainant made clear allegations and that the accused made trenchant denials in his subsequent statement to the gardaí and if that was all I had to deal with the matter would go to the jury,” Judge O’Donnell said in his ruling.

He said he had to consider a number of matters which included the fact that the complainant had made an allegation of sexual abuse by an uncle to a social worker who treated her in 1994 and never mentioned the accused at that stage.

The judge also said he found it “very strange indeed” that although the deceased psychiatrist first carried out a “psycho-sexual investigation” with the then teenager in 1984, 2½ years after the alleged offences, “yet it was not until 1994 that the allegation of sexual abuse was first made”.

He said the complainant denied that she ever suffered from delusions, which were outlined in the psychiatrist’s notes, but admitted a “significant mental breakdown”.

Judge O’Donnell noted that two further attending psychiatrists, who also treated the complainant, were not available to give evidence but pointed out that this was not the fault of the prosecution.

“The inability to refer to these notes, which may illuminate the complainant’s condition poses a real problem to the defence of the accused and could lead to an unfair trial,” the judge said.

The now 42-year-old complainant had earlier told Caroline Biggs SC, prosecuting, that Fr O Hauallachain first abused her in an open confessional room after she had been singing in the church choir that day.