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Woman's Claims Not True, Priest Tells Court

Irish Times, May 17, 2011 by BARRY ROCHE, Southern Correspondent

Fr Dan Duane

Retired priest Daniel Duane (73), at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on charges of indecently assaulting a girl in Mallow on a date between 1980 and 1982. The woman, now in her 40s, said the priest kissed and fondled her when she visited him.Photograph: Cork Courts Limited

A WOMAN in her 40s has told a court that a priest kissed her and fondled her when she visited him as a teenager to discuss a family problem after meeting him on a school retreat almost 30 years ago.

The woman told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that she had met Fr Dan Duane at a school retreat some days earlier and that he invited her to call to his house in Mallow if she ever wanted to chat about any difficulties or needed some comfort or consolation.

Fr Duane (73), a retired priest with an address at the Presbytery, Cecilstown, Mallow, Co Cork denies a charge that he indecently assaulted the teenager at Bellevue, Mallow, on a date unknown between September 1st, 1980, and April 1st, 1982.

Yesterday, the complainant in the case told the jury of seven men and five women how, when she called to Fr Duane’s house at Bellevue, he answered the door and invited her into the sitting room where they began chatting about a family problem she had.

She became upset and he offered to get her a cup of tea or glass of water, and when he returned he sat down on the three-seater couch but moved closer to her and told her that things were going to be okay and he would comfort her. “He put his right hand over my left shoulder and leaned over and kissed me on the lips and he fondled my breasts – it went on for maybe a minute.

“My initial reaction was just absolute shock, then a slight freeze and then I told him to ‘f**k off’ and I just went towards the door.”

The woman said she was afraid to tell her parents as she didn’t think that they would believe her, while she was also fearful because she was supposed to be staying on at school for extra study at the time and her father would be angry over her using bad language to a priest.

Some months later she told a friend that Fr Duane kissed her and some years later she told the same woman that he had fondled her breasts, but the court heard that that friend had no recollection of the woman ever telling her anything about the incident.

The woman confirmed she had recently instructed solicitors to send a letter seeking damages from Fr Duane and the Diocese of Cloyne but she strongly rejected a suggestion by Fr Duane’s counsel, Jim O’Mahony SC, that she had invented the complaint for monetary gain.

She told Mr O’Mahony that she wasn’t 100 per cent certain when the incident happened but it was at about the time that she was doing her Intermediate Certificate. She would have been 15 or 16 at the time, she said.

Fr Duane denied he ever indecently assaulted the girl and said he had no recollection of ever meeting her at a retreat. He said he didn’t give any retreats at any girls’ schools at the time as he was working as career guidance teacher at St Colman’s College in Fermoy. The woman had claimed that she told him to “f**k off” after the alleged incident but bad language like that would have registered in his mind and no such incident ever happened, he told the court.

Occasionally groups of girls would call to the house but that was to see another priest with whom he shared the house. That priest was working as a chaplain in a girls’ school, but they never encouraged girls to call on their own.

Cross-examined by prosecution barrister Don McCarthy as to how he knew some of these girls by name, he said it was because he was introduced to them by the other priest when they would come to the house.

He said he didn’t recall the woman’s name and he did not recognise her but he did know her husband who was always friendly towards him over the years and he never got any sense from him of any coldness towards him, said Fr Duane. The case continues.


Retired Priest Denies Kissing and Fondling Teen Girl

Belfast Telegraph, 17 May 2011

A retired priest has denied kissing and attempting to fondle the breasts of a teenage girl who claims he invited her to his home after hearing her confession.

Fr Dan Duane (73) yesterday denied at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that he indecently assaulted the young girl on a date unknown 30 years ago.

The trial of Fr Duane, of the Presbytery, Cecilstown, Mallow, Co Cork, opened yesterday before Judge Sean O Donnabhain and a jury.

The State alleges that the priest indecently assaulted the girl, who was then aged between 15 and 16 years, on a date unknown between mid-1981 and early 1982.

Don McCarthy, for the State, said the girl -- who was a secondary school student -- had her confession heard by the cleric during a youth retreat.

The girl claimed that after she told the priest about a family matter he invited her to call to his home to discuss the issue in greater detail.

The girl said she called to the parochial house and then became upset when outlining her problem.

The woman, in evidence to the trial, said the cleric offered to comfort her when she became distraught. "He lent over towards me and kissed me on the lips. His right hand was over my left shoulder. He fondled my breasts. I would say it was (for) about a minute," she added.

The complainant said she told the priest to "f*** off" and left the room.

She explained she met her mother but did not tell her what happened for fear she would not be believed.

The woman said that, as a teenager at the time, she was also very concerned about having used bad language towards a priest. "I would have been in trouble about that," she said.

However, defence counsel Jim O'Mahony said the priest has absolutely no recollection of having ever heard her confession -- and was not involved in retreats at the school involved.

Mr O'Mahony also pointed out that the woman said she confided in a friend about what happened -- but the alleged confidant had no recollection of the matter when questioned by gardai.

Mr O'Mahony also said that while the woman insisted she was not making the complaint for any personal gain, his client received a letter on May 10 last year from solicitors acting on her behalf seeking compensation.

In a garda interview shown to the jury, Fr Duane said he did not recall the woman's name. He also claimed that if somebody told him to "f*** off" he would have remembered the incident.

The case continues today.