Priest guilty of twice raping girl in sacristy

 

A Donegal priest has been found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court of twice raping a 13-year-old girl in a church sacristy more than 20 years ago.

Daniel Doherty (48), of Derriscleigh, Carrigart, in Donegal, was remanded on continuing bail for sentence on October 23rd.

Mr Justice Philip O'Sullivan also certified him to be registered as a sex offender under the legislation and directed the preparation of a victim impact report.

The jury took just over 5½ hours to find him guilty by 11-1 and 10-2 majority verdicts, respectively, on two charges of raping the girl in 1985.

The jury found him not guilty on a third charge of raping her in the Parochial House in 1985 but guilty by an 11-1 majority of indecently assaulting her then. He was also found guilty by 11-1 majority of indecently assaulting her in his car on a date in December 1984.

Doherty had denied all charges during his seven-day trial and gave evidence to the jury in his defence. He was remanded on bail on condition that he reside at the address given, sign on weekly at a named Garda station, surrender his passport, and not leave the State without informing the Garda.

Mr Justice O'Sullivan exempted the jury from further service for five years and told the seven men and five women they had displayed "remarkable attention and care" to the case.

The victim told Denis Vaughan Buckley SC (with Sean Guerin), prosecuting, that she first made her allegations formally in a letter to the bishop in 2003. That led to the Garda investigation and the trial.

She told how Doherty stopped his car at a pier while driving her home one night in December 1984 and then climbed over on top of her, kissing and touching her body. She described how in 1985 he raped her for the first time in the toilet at the sacristy. She said she thought she was in the church for a reading rehearsal but found him working on the amplification.

She wanted to use the toilet and planned to use an outside facility but Doherty said she should use the one in the sacristy. He then came in and raped her.

The woman told Mr Vaughan Buckley that she also told her friend about this and they agreed that in future they would always go together to the church.

She said the second rape happened when she and her friend were late for confession and Doherty said he would hear theirs in the sacristy. When her friend was finished and left, he said to her: "What am I going to do for you?" He then raped her. She had a bath at home and said nothing to anyone of what happened.

She said she met Doherty in the Parochial House where he asked her about her periods. Her sister and friend all advised her not to go near Doherty again on her own. Some time later, he sent for her again and she went to the Parochial House. She told her family she was going to babysit for a neighbour.

On this occasion, she said Doherty took her upstairs to his bedroom and told her he wanted to experience sex in a bed.

Mr Vaughan Buckley told Mr Justice O'Sullivan that the victim had no objection to Doherty being named in media reports though it might lead to her being identified.