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Colm O'Gorman: "The Reality Is That False Allegations Are Incredibly Rare."

LOVE's Abuse Claims Dismissed

Irish Times October 29, 2003

Groups working with victims of clerical sex abuse have called on a newly-formed group supporting members of religious congregations to "put up or shut up" in its claims that numerous allegations are spurious.

They were reacting to a statement from Ms Florence Horseman-Hogan, founder of Let Our Voices Emerge (LOVE), that "people are coming up with scars they got accidentally and saying they were abused".

Ms Horseman-Hogan said: "What we have are people right across the board saying 'You back up my allegations and I'll split the compensation with you'."

Describing the statement as "outrageous and deeply offensive", Mr John Kelly, co-ordinator of Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA), said his group had been inundated with angry and upset victims.

Mr Kelly said people did not make allegations lightly and that spurious ones were quickly identified.

"Victims who make criminal allegations are forced to undergo rigorous interrogation by the police," he said.

They "have to go through the ordeal of being cross-examined and having their claims validated by up to 15 senior and junior counsel at the Laffoy inquiry".

Mr Colm O'Gorman, of the One In Four organisation, said the charity had accompanied many victims to the Laffoy commission.

"I can tell you it is a pretty horrific experience, not just in terms of having to attend it but in terms of the level of detail they require, and psychiatric reports. It is not a pleasant or easy experience."

He and Mr Kelly both called on Ms Horseman-Hogan to go to the Garda if she knew of false allegations and to withdraw her claim if she was not going to do so.

Mr O'Gorman said those in LOVE should do so "as a matter of urgency", adding that if One in Four came across such false allegations they would report them immediately."It is a criminal offence to make false allegations like that."

A spokeswoman for LOVE, Ms Mary Walsh, speaking on Louth-Meath Radio (LMFM), said the organisation would pass on all its information about alleged false claims to the Garda.

Mr O'Gorman said it was "a phenomenon surrounding sex and child abuse" that people do not want it to be so. "The reality is that false allegations are incredibly rare."