Priest acquitted of indecently assaulting teenager in Limerick parochial house

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Email:

david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Priest acquitted of indecently assaulting teenager in Limerick parochial house

A PRIEST who was accused of indecently assaulting a teenage boy at the parochial house in the Limerick parish where he worked was acquitted by a jury following a five-day trial.

The 64-year-old had pleaded not guilty to six charges relating to offences which were alleged to have occurred over a 22-month period in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

It was alleged that he exposed himself to the complainant and inappropriately touched him when he called to carry out errands such as getting Mass cards signed.

During the trial, the jury of five women and seven men heard evidence from the complainant who was aged 17 when the first of the offences is alleged to have taken place.

The man, now aged in his early 40s, made a complaint to gardai in 2016 – 26 years afterwards.

In his closing speech, Mark Nicholas SC urged the jurors to act like scientists and to forensically examine the evidence before them. He submitted there was no corroborative evidence in the case and that there was no “supporting evidence” before them.

You have to rely entirely on his memory,” he said urging the jurors to put any sense of disquiet to one side.

He told them his client remains a priest but had temporarily “stepped aside” from active minister pending the outcome of the trial.

Following almost five hours of deliberations the jury foreman indicated the jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict.

However, they did return majority not guilty verdicts in relation to each of the six charges.

The defendant held his face in his hands and sobbed as each of the verdicts were read out by the court registrar.

There was no reaction from the complainant who sat next to a relative in the public gallery.

Last year the same priest was acquitted of eight similar charges relating to a different complainant.

Those offences were alleged to have occurred in the same parish around the same time.