Priest tells court of shock at indecent assault allegations

 

A PRIEST accused of sexually abusing a Co Louth teenager almost 30 years ago told gardaí that he was shocked by the allegations and did not know why the woman would make such false claims.

Fr Maelíosa Ó Hauallacháin (72) of Seafield Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, pleaded not guilty to three charges of indecent assault on dates between July 31st, 1981, and August 2nd, 1982, when the complainant was between 13 and 14 years old.

The accused told gardaí that he was not the “source” of the woman’s troubles and he prayed that they would pass some day. He later said that he was “deeply hurt by these false and wrong allegations” and did not know why she had chosen him.

A social worker who dealt with the complainant in 1994 told Hugh Hartnett SC (with Mr Carl Hanahoe), defending, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, that her notes of a meeting between them in July of that year stated “alleged physical abuse by her father, sexual abuse by her uncle”.

She further agreed that notes from a second meeting stated “from an alcoholic background and allegations of both physical and sexual abuse within the extended family”.

Det Garda Maureen McFadden told Caroline Biggs SC (with Damien Colgan), prosecuting, that the complainant first made a witness statement to gardaí on September 21st, 1995, where she named Fr Ó Hauallacháin as her abuser.

In June the following year she and a colleague met with the accused in his then home in Donnybrook, where he provided a statement to them, having been advised of the allegations.

Ms Biggs read the statement to the jury in which the accused said his earliest recollection of the complainant was making her laugh by imitating her own laugh while she was in the choir in the church he was working in at the time.

He claimed he had never touched the girl inappropriately, kissed her or invited her to touch him while in a confessional room in the church and stated that the room was never locked as the woman had earlier testified.

“Nothing untoward ever happened between us then or after,” Fr Ó Hauallacháin said in his statement.

He said that the front parlour of the friary in which the complainant alleges he abused her on almost a weekly basis was also never locked and claimed that there was always “a lot of activity” in the friary itself.

Fr Ó Hauallacháin said he rejected these suggestions by the woman “without reservation”.

He acknowledged that he had a pet name for the complainant, “bubble skins”, but claimed that he had similar names for a number of the children in the parish which he said he used in front of both adults and young people.

Fr Ó Hauallacháin accepted that he had given the then teenager advice on how not to get pregnant and used the phrase, “You only have to get your carpet shampooed to get into trouble.”

The trial continues before Judge Frank O’Donnell and a jury of five women and seven men.