I Forgive You - Priest Asks Court to Show Mercy on his Accuser
Irish Independent, June 28 2007 by Tomas Mac Ruairi
A PRIEST falsely accused of child sexual abuse yesterday publicly forgave his accuser - and asked a court to show mercy when sentencing him.
Paul Anderson (34) claimed the priest had buggered him while giving him First Holy Communion prayer tuition more than 25 years ago.
The allegations, made four years ago, were untrue, but the priest was instantly and publicly suspended from ministry while the claims were investigated.
During an emotional victim-impact statement read to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, the priest said he would have preferred to have been shot in the head than for him and his family to have gone through the last four years.
Anderson was jailed for four years for making the false complaint.
The jury returned a 10-2 majority guilty verdict after deliberating for almost six hours at the end of the 17-day trial.
Anderson - of Crumlin Park, Crumlin, and formerly of Fatima Mansions and Iveagh Trust Flats, New Bride Street, Dublin - had denied falsely accusing the priest.
He denied making a false statement to Detective Garda Brian Kavanagh at Kevin Street garda station on June 18, 2003, that acts of indecent assault and buggery were committed on him by the priest between February and May 1981.
Det Sgt Martin Mooney told the court that when the garda investigation revealed Anderson's claims were untrue, the priest was reinstated to his pastoral ministry at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 2003 and received a standing ovation from the congregation.
Judge Patricia Ryan said the court had considered letters and testimonials, including a victim-impact statement from the priest.
During that statement, the priest said he hoped the result would not stop genuine victims of child sexual abuse from coming forward.
He thanked the professionalism of the gardai, who "gave me back my very life".
He would be forever grateful and particularly mentioned Det Sgt Mooney and Det Gda Kavanagh, "who approached this case with meticulous attention to detail that uncovered the truth and led to justice being done".
In his statement, he said that as a result of Anderson and the One-in-Four group going to the Archbishop of Dublin, he was instantly suspended from ministry.
"Without any due process, my diocese - in this Guantanamo Bay reaction - had me stand aside from my work as a priest. I had to leave my house and home and stay with family and friends, and I lost almost a year out of my pastoral work." He described the allegations against him as being like a case of armed robbery, with the accuser using his name and reputation in order to extract money from the Church.
"I would have honestly preferred had the perpetrator shot me through the head rather than have put me and my family through the pangs of anxiety and the profound sufferings we endured over the past four years." He said his ordeal had given him "a deeper insight into the mind of Christ", who had also been falsely accused.
"And since his standard of forgiveness was 'seventy times seven times' then surely I must be able to find it in me to forgive Paul Anderson - which I now do - and I do so wholeheartedly.
"So may I sincerely ask that this be taken into merciful consideration by the court when sentence is being passed," he said.
Handing down sentence, Judge Ryan said the court had also taken into account medical evidence on behalf of Anderson regarding his suicidal tendencies, including an overdose he took before his trial was initially due to come before the court
She noted also the further submission by defence counsel Damien Colgan that Anderson had no previous convictions and had a good work record.
Judge Ryan said the aggravating factor was that his false claim was planned to try and extract money from the Church, and the court had to mark the seriousness of the offence by imposing a four-year sentence.
Mr Colgan earlier told Judge Ryan that Anderson has found prison "harrowing and difficult" since going into custody following his conviction.
Judge Ryan refused his application for leave to appeal conviction and sentence.
The jury heard that Anderson was €9,000 in debt and his car had been repossessed when he made the allegations, but he denied in evidence that he had planned to sue the priest and a nun he falsely claimed sent him for prayer tuition, as well as a Christian Brother he also named to gardai.
Evidence showed that neither Anderson nor any other pupil from his school had ever been sent to the priest for Holy Communion prayer tuition and he admitted he had never been sexually abused by any brother.
Innocent Priest Prays for Accuser
Irish Independent, June 09 2007 by Breda Heffernan
THE innocent priest who was at the centre of false allegations that he sexually abused a young boy has prayed for mercy for his accuser.
Friends of the priest, who works in a Dublin parish, say he was left "totally devastated" by the allegation, and criticised the four-year wait before his name was cleared.
Paul Anderson (34) from Crumlin Park, Crumlin, Dublin, and formerly of the Iveagh Trust Flats, New Bride Street, Dublin, was convicted earlier this week of making false allegations against the priest.
Anderson had claimed that he was buggered by the Dublin priest more than 25 years ago while receiving First Holy Communion tuition. Yesterday a friend of the priest said in the current climate of clerical sex abuse cases, innocent members of the clergy are "easy targets".
Man Found Guilty of False Abuse Claims Against Priest
Irish Independent June 08 2007 by Tomas Mac Ruairi
A MAN has been convicted of falsely alleging he was buggered by a priest he claimed was giving him First Holy Communion tuition more than 25 years ago.
Paul Anderson (34) had denied making a false statement that he was abused by the priest.
Anderson, of Crumlin Park, Crumlin, Dublin, and formerly of Iveagh Trust Flats, New Bride Street, Dublin, has been remanded in custody for sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
He had denied making a false statement to Det-Gda Brian Kavanagh on June 18, 2003 that acts of indecent assault and buggery were committed on him by the priest in the period February to May 1981.
The jury returned its 10-2 majority guilty verdict after it had been deliberating for almost six hours, having spent one night in a hotel.
Judge Patricia Ryan exempted the four women and eight men from further jury service for life.
Anderson, who was €9,000 in debt and whose car had been repossessed when he made the allegations, denied in evidence he had planned to sue the priest.
He denied telling investigating gardai: "I thought of the story first and then the priest's name."
Anderson also denied that he said: "Yes, he didn't rape me but he was a cruel man and I just said it" and that the priest "used to frown down on us because he thought everyone who lived in the flats were scum."
He detailed sexual abuse to the courts that he claimed was carried out.
But evidence showed that neither Anderson nor any other pupil from his school had ever been sent to the priest for Holy Communion prayer tuition.
Anderson told the jury that only his evidence was correct. Other witnesses he claimed had got their evidence wrong and were "lying to protect the Church".
The jury viewed a video-recording of an interview in which Anderson told gardai his allegations were not true and that he apologised for making them, but then heard him repeat in both his direct evidence and his cross-examination that he had been sexually abused while his mother sat outside the room.