Victim loses claim against Irish priest


LONDON – A 45-year-old man who claims he was sexually abused by an Irish-born priest more than 30 years ago lost his damages claim yesterday in London High Court.

The man, who can only be identified as Maga, said he was abused by Fr Christopher Clonan, who served at the Church of Christ the King in Coventry, over a period of many months in about 1976.

Fr Clonan, from Clonard, Co Meath, fled England to Australia in 1992 when previous allegations against him surfaced. His brother, who lives in Melbourne, Australia, has claimed that the priest died suddenly in 1998.

Maga – who has learning difficulties and has never worked – did not complain about the abuse that allegedly took place when he was 12 or 13 until 2006, after he learned that another man had recovered damages from the Catholic Church for abuse he had suffered from Fr Clonan.

Maga’s case against the trustees of the Birmingham archdiocese, who denied liability, was brought on the basis that they were vicariously liable for the assaults on him and that they were negligent because a complaint allegedly made about Fr Clonan in 1974 was not followed up.

Mr Justice Jack, sitting in London, said he was satisfied that the essence of Maga’s evidence was true and that sexual abuse occurred.

But he said Fr Clonan’s association with Maga was founded on his use of the boy to wash his car and clean the presbytery. “That employment was not a priestly activity. Fr Clonan did not do anything to draw the claimant into the activities of the church.” – (PA)