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Priest Always Said He Was Innocent
The Wicklow People, 23 December 2004

Day two - Defence
Fr. Chris Conroy did not give evidence during his trial. However, transcripts of the interviews he gave Wicklow Gardaí on the day of his arrest were read in court.

Detective Sergeant Fergus O'Brien told the circuit court that he arrested Fr. Conroy on September 18, 2002, at 9.45 a.m. on suspicion of commiting sexual assault. He told him who the allegation had been made by.

Counsel for the State, Paul Murray, read from the first interview. Fr. Conroy said he was born on December 20, 1932, a native of Rathdrum. He was ordained into the Carmelite Order in 1959. He worked in Ireland and abroad and spent 15 years in Peru.

He spoke of the family of the complainant, saying the children used to come into his house. They were always looking for something - a lift somewhere or to watch television, as he had Sky.

The transcripts said he laughed when he was told who he was accused of abusing. He said the first he heard of it was during proceedings related to a separate dispute between him and the girl's family.

He said he was innocent. He had been in Peru for so long and when he returned to Ireland he didn't know that one shouldn't let children into one's home.

He said the girl's sister used to go to his home to book Ryanair flights and concert tickets on the computer.

He recalled in the interview that the girl came to his house one night. He was in bed and she banged on the door. He let her in and she was extremely agitated. She told him she had had a row and claimed that her father had beat her.

He said he rang her home and her mother came to his house. She said the girl could stay in his house and she stayed in the spare room. Her father came around later. He was very angry.

Fr. Conroy told the detective sergeant that she used to have terrible panic attacks and say they were orgasms. She was lonely and had no friends. She was always in vile humour. She had sex on the brain and he said she told him one night that she could get him in terrible trouble and she could say he made her do it.

He said she used to come in every Friday and Saturday night. She talked about sex all the time, asking every question under the sun. She said her father wouldn't tell her and her mother gave her a book. She used to go into chatrooms on the internet and they were very sexual.

He was sure that the allegations against him would never have been made, had there not been a separate dispute involving the girl's family.

'I bought her clothes. She was always asking for things. She picked the clothes and I paid for them. I didn't want people thinking Òhe paid a fortune to have sex with her'.'

She said she used to kiss him all the time but he never french kissed her.

He said that on the night of a disco, he agreed to give them a lift. He recognised that it was undermining her parents, but she was going to go anyway. He said he didn't offer her beer, instead she knew where things were and got them herself.

He said that on their way home from Dun Laoghaire she had a panic attack near Ashford. He said he didn't stop the car, and while he admitted putting his hand on her shoulder or stomach, he denied touching her private parts.

During the second interview on the same day, Det. Sgt. O'Brien told Fr Conroy that the allegation was that in the car on the way back from Dun Laoghaire he touched the girl's crotch while she pretended to have an orgasm. The priest's response was that it was 'extraordinary'.

He said he never spoke to the victim about another girl on the journey. He said when they returned home she went upstairs and tried all her clothes on to show him. He said she was beautiful because she lacked self esteem.

The detective sergeant told him that the victim in her statement said she thought he would rape her but he said there was never an atmosphere like that.

'She was always talking about sex. She said she dreamed of boys making love to her,' he said.

He said that she went into the conservatory and he did eejitsu massage on her to calm her down after she dropped things in the supermarket. He said he never touched her inappropriately. He wondered how she made it all up.

'She was lying on the sun lounger and I said ÒI think I know something that will get it out of your system',' he said in the interview. He said it started with breathing and he touched her nose and forehead. 'I didn't touch her in any improper place,' he stated.

He said it never crossed his mind to have a sexual relationship with her. If it had come into his mind he wouldn't have let her in the door, he said, adding that she was a 'sex maniac'.

He said that he had a book on Inca sexual positions but said it was part of Peruvian culture. He confirmed that he did sleep naked but that came up in an indirect way.

He said that she did have a bath in his house one Christmas Eve but her mother knew about it. She had never had a bath, he said.

He said making love to the girl was the farthest thing from his mind. He had never made love, because of his vow of celibacy, which was still intact. He said he never said to the girl that if they made love it would be beautiful.

Det. Sgt. O'Brien told defence barrister, Richard Keane S.C., that Fr. Conroy denied the offence and gave an extensive interview. He never refused to answer a question.