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Abuse Allegation Untrue, Casey Tells Bishop of Killaloe

The Irish Times, December 10, 2005 by Gordon Deegan

The former Bishop of Galway Dr Éamon Casey is confident there is no foundation to the child abuse allegation recently made against him, according to the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh.

Dr Walsh said yesterday that Dr Casey phoned him on Thursday to thank him for comments he made earlier this week on the allegation made against the former bishop.

In Dublin last Monday, Dr Walsh said the allegation seemed to be without any reasonable foundation, and that expecting Dr Casey to stand down on the basis of such an allegation was contrary to natural justice.

Speaking yesterday on Clare FM's Morning Focus programme, Dr Walsh said he received a phone-call from "Bishop Eamon" on Thursday.

"He simply thanked me for the comment and he assured me that there wasn't any foundation for this allegation.

"He told me something about it and I would be reluctant to go into detail, except that this person apparently has made an allegation against a number of people in recent years and there hasn't been any foundation to them.

"He was very confident that there was absolutely no foundation whatsoever for this, and he spoke with a lot of compassion and sympathy for the person who had made the allegation.

"The person is personally known to him for a long number of years and he spoke with a lot of sympathy and compassion for that person.

"There was no anger, there was no hostility in him in relation to the person. He would be eager to have his name cleared."

Dr Walsh said Dr Casey was now having to prove his innocence and to have to stand down from ministry which he was enjoying "is very hard on a man who has been through so much himself and who at this stage is close to 80 years of age".

Last month Dr Casey stepped aside from his ministry in the southern English Catholic diocese of Arundel and Brighton to deal with the allegation.

It is understood that the allegation against him was made by a middle-aged woman now living in the UK and that it concerns an incident she claimed took place more than three decades ago in Ireland.

Dr Walsh said: "One of the difficulties in this whole area is that it is very difficult to clear one's name in a situation like this because the reality is that in the vast majority of these situations, you are talking about one person's word against another.

"Once the allegation is made, it is very difficult to clear one's name. In other words, it is very difficult to prove that one is innocent.

"There is almost an upturning of the old adage that a person is innocent until one is proven guilty, and there is a cloud there and it is almost guilty until proven innocent and the difficulty is it is very hard to prove one's innocence in a situation like that.

"I do think there is a question of natural justice. There is no doubt about it, that the potential damage to the person accused, irrespective of whether they are guilty or innocent, the potential damage to their reputation is enormous.

"Nonetheless, I am very confident, particularly from talking to Bishop Eamon himself, that his name will be cleared in this situation."

The Catholic Church's record in relation to its treatment of gay people also came under fire from Dr Walsh yesterday.

Dr Walsh said homosexuals had suffered deeply because of the "very strong prejudice" against them that existed in the church and society as a whole.

This, he said, "was unjust".

He said: "I would know a number of homosexual people who I find very fine people, very often gentle, kind and decent and I think it is appalling to treat any person like that with lack of respect."

Casey's Accuser Made Similar Uproven Claims Against Others
The Irish Times - Thursday, December 1, 2005 by Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

The child abuse allegation, which has led to former Bishop of Galway Dr Eamon Casey standing aside from active ministry in an English parish, was made by a woman now living in the UK who has made similar unproven allegations against others in the past.

It is also understood she has endured bouts of ill-health over recent years.

The middle-aged woman, who is believed to have known Dr Casey most of her life, made the allegation for the first time last week concerning an incident she claimed took place over three decades ago in Ireland.

Her allegation was conveyed to a person in the south of Ireland who had been designated to deal with such claims. The child protection office in the southern English Catholic diocese of Arundel and Brighton, where Dr Casey has been serving as a curate, was contacted immediately and Dr Casey was informed.

In accordance with the diocese's Safe and Sound child protection guidelines, on the receipt of such an allegation he was asked to step aside from active ministry, which he agreed to do.

Relevant health and police authorities were informed.

However, as of last night, there were no indications that either Health Service Executive or Garda investigations were under way.

Sources in Arundel and Brighton diocese indicated last night that, while Dr Casey had agreed readily to co-operate with any inquiry into the allegation, no contact had been made with the diocese by either the HSE or the Garda.

It was also confirmed that the bishop had no current plans to come to Ireland in relation to the matter.

Catholic Church sources in Kerry and Galway, the two Irish dioceses where Dr Casey served as bishop, said they had no knowledge of the allegation, the nature of which took them by surprise.

In Dublin yesterday, Catholic primate of Ireland Archbishop Seán Brady said he first heard of the allegation against Dr Casey when listening to the radio yesterday morning.

In Galway yesterday, where the funeral of Dr Casey's successor Dr James McLoughlin took place in Galway Cathedral, a spokeswoman for the Catholic communications office said that none of the many bishops present would be commenting on yesterday's report of the allegation against Dr Casey.

To do so would be "inappropriate" on an occasion when Bishop McLoughlin's life was being celebrated, she said.