Priest told girl God approved during sex assault, court told


A WOMAN has told a court how a priest assured her God would approve as he sexually assaulted her when she was 14 years old.

The woman, now in her 40s, said she was sexually assaulted by Fr Daniel Duane (73) when she went to visit him at his house in Co Cork in the summer of 1980, when she was a secondary school student.

Fr Duane, The Presbytery, Cecilstown, Mallow, Co Cork, denied the single charge of indecent assault when he was arraigned before a jury of seven men and five women at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday.

The woman said the assault happened as they sat on a sofa. He had put his arm around her.

“There was nothing urgent or panicked in his behaviour,” she added. “It was very calm, very slow, very deliberate. He urged me into a lying position. I felt his hands on my legs and on my chest.”

She said she had had her period a short time before and was wearing a sanitary pad.

She was feeling very conscious about this when she felt Fr Duane putting his hands further up her legs towards her private parts.

“I felt his hands. He pushed the pad out of the way and he inserted his fingers. He kept whispering that this was okay, that God would approve . . . I felt pain. I felt ashamed and I felt dirty. I was in shock.

“I remember just wanting to die – I wanted to die,” she added.

The woman could not remember the exact date or time of day that this happened, but she remembered she was wearing white sandals and a white dress of which she was very proud.

When she looked down, she discovered the dress was stained.

She said she was upset about the dress and wondered how she was going to get into her home without anyone noticing the stain on it.

She managed to sneak into the bathroom at home and washed the dress in the sink with soap.

Cross-examined by Jim O’Mahony SC, for Fr Duane, the woman said she had first met Fr Duane when he and another priest were giving a retreat at her school.

They had later invited girls to visit their house and they had gone in groups before later going individually.

She agreed with Mr O’Mahony she had met Fr Duane again in both 1986 and 1992, just before she was to get married. She said that both times she simply wanted to ask him to explain why he had abused her, and to apologise for it.

She said when they met in 1986 he put his hands inside her clothes and touched her breasts, and when they met in 1992 he said to her: “Who would have thought you would have turned into such a beautiful woman?”

She said this disgusted her and she left immediately.

Asked by Mr O’Mahony why she did not contact gardaí and make a complaint about Fr Duane until June 2009, the woman said she had never wanted to relive or bring up what happened to her, but she had become concerned when her daughter turned 13.

Her daughter had been due to start going on retreats and one day she heard a priest saying how innocent young girls about to make their Confirmation were. She then realised how she had been robbed of her innocence when she was abused by Fr Duane, she told the court.

“This is something I wish I could erase from my memory. I was 14, I was a child, it will not erase from my mind,” she said.

“I wish I could – I never wanted to talk about it, I never wanted to bring it up, I never wanted to relive it – what I wanted was to erase it,” she said.

The case continues.