Email Us My Blog


The Accused: What the Report Says about 18 Priests

Irish Times, July 14, 2011

Priests mentioned in the report were given pseudonyms

‘Fr Corin’ 

IN 1994, “Nia” complained to a bishop outside Cloyne about abuse by Fr Corin. She said he moved to her parish when she was nine or 10 and had a housekeeper in her late teens. When she visited the house he would sit her on his lap and put his hands under her clothes. The abuse continued until he left the parish when she was 16.

Interviewed by Msgr O’Callaghan, Fr Corin denied “serious interference” but admitted fondling between four and six girls in the 1960s. He said he petted Nia and on occasion this went too far.

Msgr O’Callaghan concluded there had been no abuse, only “overfamiliarity”.

The commission says: “It was clearly and unequivocally child sexual abuse.”

A second complainant, “Oifa”, recalled an incident when she was 10 in the 1960s and Fr Corin sat her on his lap and put his hands beneath her clothes. In 1996, Fr Corin met Bishop Magee and acknowledged he was guilty of child sexual abuse. He resigned his ministry and died in 2002.

The commission says there was no attempt to have Fr Corin assessed to see whether he was a continuing danger to children and no attempt was made to establish the extent of his abusive behaviour. There is no evidence that he was restricted from ministering in public and parishioners were not told of the real reason for his resignation. It is also critical of the lack of a proper Garda investigation into complaints.

‘Fr Darien’ 

Fr Darien died in 1997, a few months after a complaint was made about him. The complainant, “Rona”, said she had been sexually assaulted by him when she was aged about 16 and working in the laundry of a girls’ home in the 1960s. Nothing was done about the complaint because, Msgr O’Callaghan said, Fr Darien was terminally ill at the time. The commission says proper procedures were not followed. There was no reporting to the civil authorities and no further inquiries were made.


‘Fr Calder’ 

Fr Calder was born in the 1960s. In 1978, a psychological assessment of his suitability for the priesthood found that he was highly maladjusted, sexually repressed and scored in the 97th percentile for psychosis. He went on to be ordained.

The report says the history of complaints and concerns about Fr Calder is confusing. No formal direct complaint of child sexual abuse has been made against him, but the report says it is clear that concerns were expressed about his behaviour by priests, teachers, doctors, gardaí and parishioners.

In his first parish, there were concerns that he was supplying alcohol, which appeared to be spiked, to young adults.

One man told his doctor he had been sexually assaulted by Fr Calder after being supplied with an alcoholic drink; he did not make a formal complaint at the time.

The commission says it is aware of three concerns/complaints of child sexual abuse involving Fr Calder. In one, it was alleged he had a “confrontation” with two young people. In the second, a mother told her GP she found the priest in bed with her son, then aged under 16.

The third case involved two Traveller boys who called to Fr Calder’s house looking for money for petrol. It is alleged the priest offered the 15-year-old boy a whiskey, which he refused, and then sexually assaulted him.

Fr Calder denied having done anything improper or having slept with young people.

In 1997, Bishop Magee asked Fr Calder to leave his parish and go for assessment to the Granada Institute. It found he displayed characteristics congruent with people who seek to satisfy unacceptable sexual needs in surreptitious ways.

Fr Calder was transferred to a home for older people. In 2003 there was concern among the nurses because he was using the internet to access pornographic jokes and was seeing young men in his rooms late at night. He was transferred to a house in the grounds of the home. The commission, while accepting there was no direct complaint of child sexual abuse against Fr Calder, says the diocese should have paid more attention to the assessment of his suitability for the priesthood and should have been more vigilant after he had been to Granada and he should have been prevented from dressing as a priest.

‘Fr Tarin’ 

Fr Tarin was born in 1922, ordained in 1947 and died in 2003. The commission is aware of two complaints against him.

In 2002, “Maille” told her local priest she had been abused when she was about six in the 1950s. She later told Msgr O’Callaghan that Fr Tarin had seriously sexually assaulted her. Msgr O’Callaghan wrote to Fr Tarin as follows: “I hope that this does not come as too much of a shock to you but it is under control and will have no adverse implications, if we manage it correctly”.

Fr Tarin said he could not recall any specific incident. He died eight months later.

In 2009, “Michael” alleged he had been abused by Fr Tarin in the 1960s, but gave no details. The commission says although

Msgr O’Callaghan had evidence of a vicious sexual assault, he opted to try to “bury the matter”.

‘Fr Flan’ 

Fr Flan was born in 1971 and ordained in 1997. The following year he was appointed a curate in Mallow, where Msgr Denis O’Callaghan was his parish priest.

He was involved in a number of relationships with women and is the subject of one complaint of child sexual abuse.

In 2000, a nun contacted Msgr O’Callaghan, expressing concern about Fr Flan’s relationships with a woman and a teenage girl, “Trista”. Another woman alleged she was given drink by Fr Flan and was asked to go away with him for the weekend.

Fr Flan acknowledged the relationship with the adult woman and with Trista and said these were the only cases about which Msgr O’Callaghan should have concerns. He was ordered not to stay the night away from his own house without permission, not to make contact with the two women and not to be alone with any girl in a house or car.

In 2002, it was alleged that he bought a box of condoms on Ash Wednesday. Some time later, he eloped with a married woman and was suspended. Noting that the case involved a complaint about a child, the commission says it was “completely inexcusable” that no report was made to the Garda or the Health Service Executive.

The case showed that Msgr O’Callaghan had no clear policy about complaints.

‘Fr Drust’ 

Fr Drust was born in 1920 and died in 2010. After spells in the UK and on missions, he was appointed to a rural parish in Cloyne in 1964. He had a keen interest in music and created a youth orchestra in the parish, and also taught music.

There is one complaint of child sexual abuse against Fr Drust, which is alleged to have occurred between 1967 and 1971. The complainant, “Ula”, told a priest in 1990 but not the diocesan authorities. In 2002, she brought the complaint to the Bishop of Cork and Ross.

She said she first met Fr Drust when she was aged seven or eight in 1964-65. The sexual abuse began a few months later. Initially, it occurred in his car when he put her on his lap. Some time afterwards, she started to visit his house at weekends. She said Fr Drust would give her three or four glasses of sherry and she would wake up in bed the following morning. He would then abuse her.

She said that Fr Drust referred to her as his “Lolita”. Fr Drust, when later questioned by gardaí, denied any knowledge of the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

Fr Drust told gardaí in 2002 he did not realise there was anything improper about the name Lolita until he was at tea in a local person’s house and had brought Ula. At the end, he asked where was his Lolita. “The woman was shocked at the use of the expression and advised him not to use such terms.”

Ula’s elder sister told gardaí that on one occasion when she was 13, Fr Drust came into her bedroom, ran his tongue down the side of her face and attempted to kiss her.

“When confronted by her mother, Fr Drust said he was only preparing the elder sister for what boys would do to her in the future.”

Ula told the commission that one day, when she was 11, she reached out to remove some grey hairs from the collar of Fr Drust’s coat. “You are turning into a woman,” he said to her, and from that day on the abuse stopped.

In 2002, on receiving the complaint, Bishop John Magee immediately removed Fr Drust from his ministry. He was forbidden to say Mass in public and was told that no minors were to visit his house. He was retired and given an allowance equivalent to a parish priest’s allowance.

However, Msgr O’Callaghan allowed the music lessons to continue.

Gardaí investigated and, in 2004, Fr Drust was charged with 28 counts of indecent assault and sent forward for trial. He took a judicial review over the delay and won in the High Court. The Supreme Court overturned this decision but restrained the trial going ahead due to exceptional circumstances – he was then 87 years old.

Ula took civil proceedings and a settlement was reached in 2007. The commission says the diocese immediately reported the complaint to gardaí but says Bishop Magee did not fully co-operate with this investigation.

While Fr Drust was removed from ministry, the public perception was that he was a retired priest rather than one removed from ministry.

Gardaí investigated the complaint thoroughly.

‘Fr Kael’ 

One allegation of child sexual abuse has been made against Fr Kael, who is from a religious order and was ordained in 1959. He has also admitted to soliciting a sexual relationship with a nun in a confessional.

In 2002 the complainant, Aireli, alleged she was abused in 1966 when she was 11 years old. Fr Kael visited her at her school and during the visit, an incident occurred which caused her to run away in terror. It included him trying to kiss her but she couldn’t remember after that.

Fr Kael, who was already undergoing therapy over the incident with the nun, said he couldn’t recall the incident with the girl and could not apologise for something he could not recall. Fr Kael was ordered not to hear confession or to say Mass in public. He was sent to the Granada Institute. On Granada’s recommendation, he returned to a limited ministry after the DPP decided not to prosecute.

The Murphy commission says this case stands in sharp contrast to most of the others in the report. The religious order dealt properly with the complaint, followed procedures correctly and was sensitive to the complainant.

The report adds: “As is often the case with child sexual abuse complaints, where there is a credible complaint and a credible denial, there is, unfortunately, no resolution.”.

‘Fr Baird’ 

Fr Baird was born in 1960 and died in 2004 following a serious illness.

In 1997 a teacher at the diocesan college where he worked made an anonymous complaint to Bishop Magee about his behaviour. He complained that Fr Baird was far too close to the students and had a habit of socialising and drinking with them until the early hours of the morning.

He claimed that on Leaving Cert graduation night, Fr Baird had a crate of beer and some spirits in his room and invited several young men and their female companions, some as young as 16, to his room, when they stayed drinking until 4am. Bishop Magee removed Fr Baird from the school and had him appointed to a parish.

Five years later, the college received a complaint of child sexual abuse through a firm of solicitors. Peter alleged that in the early 1990s when he was a student in the college and aged 14 to 15, Fr Baird sexually abused him. He claimed the abuse took place in Fr Baird’s room while a Pet Shop Boys record was playing on the stereo.

Fr Baird denied the allegation, said Peter had a personality problem but did acknowledge he had the Pet Shop Boys record.

Msgr O’Callaghan carried out an investigation but Peter did not agree to be interviewed and did not make a complaint to gardaí. Proceedings in a civil case were finally resolved in 2009, five years after the priest’s death.

The commission says this was a very difficult case for all concerned.

It involved a credible allegation of child sexual abuse which Fr Baird vehemently denied.

Unknown priest 

In 2003 a resident of a nursing home wrote to the Archbishop of Dublin, Desmond Connell, to say he had been abused as a boy in Cloyne by a priest. Msgr O’Callaghan interviewed the man, who couldn’t remember the name of the priest.

The commission says Msgr O’Callaghan should have made a greater effort to find the name of the priest or at least the parish where the abuse is alleged to have taken place.

The man has since died.

‘Fr Kelven’ 

In 2002 Philip, who was in his 70s, wrote to Bishop Magee to say he had been abused by Fr Kelven when he was about 12. Philip had become a priest but left in 1970 and got married. Bishop Magee wrote to Philip but nothing more was done. The commission says no procedures were put in place.

‘Fr Rion’ 

Fr Rion retired to Cloyne in 1971 after ministering in Australia for his working life. He died in 1976. In 2005 a complaint was received through an Australian advocacy organisation on behalf of Andrew, who alleged he was abused while an altar boy in Cloyne in the 1970s.

In Australia, the Archdiocese of Brisbane was aware of complaints about Fr Rion, but did not mention these during the initial stages of investigation. Both complaints involved altar boys.

Msgr O’Callaghan sent Andrew €5,000 for counselling costs and, later, €10,000. The auxiliary bishop of Brisbane contributed AUS$20,000 and an apology. The commission says Msgr O’Callaghan was very kind to Andrew but none of the procedures were followed. The Garda was not informed and no attempt was made to establish if there were other complaints. It says it is astonishing that the Archdiocese of Brisbane did not tell Cloyne or Andrew about the earlier complaints.

‘Fr Zephan’ 

The report says there is one expression of concern/suspicion about Fr Zephan, a serving priest in the Cloyne diocese.

In 2007 a sacristan told a priest that many years earlier, she saw Fr Zephan coming out of the altar servers’ room and becoming very flustered when he saw her.

She also saw a child appear from the room distressed and embarrassed. She reported this to the parish priest at the time.

Msgr O’Callaghan interviewed the parish priest, who tried without success to contact the former altar server. He then told Fr Zephan the matter had been put to rest.

The commission says it appears the parish priest did nothing about the sacristan’s concerns when first reported.

The matter should have been reported to the Garda and the Health Service Executive in 2007.

‘Fr Caden’ 

Born in the 1930s, Fr Caden was the vocations director in Cloyne for a long period.

“Patrick” alleged he was abused by Fr Caden in the early 1980s. The abuse, which started when he was 16 or just below that age, initially involved fondling but moved on to penetration and oral sex. Patrick later became a priest in the Cloyne diocese.

Patrick told Bishop Magee of the abuse in 2004 but did not identify his abuser. However, a year later, a friend in whom he had confided went to the bishop seeking direction, as he was concerned that Fr Caden’s work involved vulnerable children. He was advised he had no obligation to reveal the name.

In 2005, Patrick revealed the name to Dean Eamon Goold and gave him a letter that Fr Caden had sent to him, in which Fr Caden referred to his “dark secret”. Msgr O’Callaghan and Bishop Magee were informed.

Bishop Magee met Fr Caden in September 2005 and compiled two very different accounts of the meeting. In one, he says Fr Caden admitted the detail of the allegation and admitted the sexual relationship, but in the other he records Fr Caden as being shocked and denying the allegation. Asked by the commission to explain the two different accounts, Bishop Magee said one was created for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican and the other was for diocesan records. He admitted his approach was wrong and the two versions were clashing.

The commission says the manner of construction used in the later letter bears “all of the hallmarks of mental reservation”. “The document is carefully created not to reveal too much information.”

Fr Caden told the commission that he and Patrick had become very friendly. One day, they hugged and kissed each other and this occurred again over a six-month period. He had been at a low ebb at the time.

Fr Caden offered his resignation on health grounds in September 2005, which was accepted, and a Garda investigation got under way in November. In March 2007, the DPP decided not to prosecute because there was apparent consent to the activity involved.

Patrick took a civil case in 2006 and compensation was paid three years later. He left the priesthood in 2006.

The commission says this case was very badly handled by the diocese. The Catholic Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children were deliberately misled about the facts as known to Bishop Magee and was not told the full truth. It says the reporting to the Garda was delayed and lacking in basic information and Bishop Magee and Msgr O’Callaghan did not cooperate with the Garda investigation in 2006.

Bishop Magee and Msgr O’Callaghan seem to have immediately come to the opinion that Fr Caden was not a threat to children, the report says. But they had no basis for this. The commission says both men hoped that because Patrick was a priest, a reconciliation would eventually take place between him and his abuser. This view coloured their approach from the start.

Fr Caden was prosecuted in 2010. He was charged with three counts of gross indecency, pleaded guilty to one and received an 18-month suspended sentence.

Two priests in a diocesan college 

In 2002, “Thomas” complained to the Garda that he had been physically and sexually abused by two priest teachers while he was a student in a diocesan college in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Gardaí interviewed the two priests, who resolutely denied the allegation. The DPP agreed with the Garda view that there was insufficient corroborating evidence to support a prosecution.

Thomas threatened but never started civil proceedings against the priests.

The commission says the Garda carried out a thorough investigation. Msgr O’Callaghan “did nothing” when informed of the allegation in 2004. “His conclusion that the allegations did not have a semblance of truth may be reasonable but there is no evidence that he came to this conclusion in a reasonable manner. He seems to have made no inquiries at all,” the report states.

‘Fr Naal’ 

There is no complaint of child sexual abuse against Fr Naal. Concerns were expressed about his involvement with children by a married couple and by his former parish priest. The married couple wrote to Bishop Magee in 2005 saying that Fr Naal did not want any adults in his sacristy, only children. They said he took children on field trips by himself, that he visited the national school three times a week and that no other adult was allowed to go with him.

The parish priest said Fr Naal had an obsessive interest in children, gave altar servers money and brought children from school to an isolated church for ceremonies and then drove them home – this meant that he was left alone with one child at the end of the journey.

The report says there is no evidence that Bishop Magee did anything at this stage. He met Fr Naal in October 2007 and noted that Fr Naal said he had stopped bringing children in his car for the past three years. The commission says the concerns expressed by the married couple and the parish priest indicated that Fr Naal may have behaved in a manner that would give rise to child protection concerns. As such, they should have been investigated.

‘Fr Moray’ 

Fr Moray, who died in 1991, was the subject of a complaint made six years later. “Skyla” alleged she and her brother, who subsequently died by suicide, had been sexually assaulted by Fr Moray. The diocese contributed to the cost of her counselling. She started a civil action in 2003 but this was not pursued. The commission says procedures were not followed, no record was made of the complaint and no investigation was carried out.

'Fr Ronat' 

THE REPORT says the case of Fr Ronat illustrates the failure of the diocese to deal properly with allegations of child sex abuse up to 2008.

Procedures were not followed, complaints not reported to gardaí, and there were no proper church investigations. A canonical investigation that was ordered in 1995 was stalled for 14 years and does not seem to have been completed.

The commission says there was no real restriction on Fr Ronats ministry. “He remained the senior curate in the parish, he carried out all the usual priestly functions, he was involved in Confirmation ceremonies and the only people who were aware of the restrictions were himself and the priests of the parish.

The failure rests mainly on Bishop John Magee and Msgr Denis OCallaghan, it says, though at least three priests seem to have ignored complaints. Bishop Magee mainly left the handling of complaints to Msgr OCallaghan, and exercised no authority over Fr Ronat in any effective way.

While Fr Ronat was removed from ministry, he was allowed to present himself as having retired, and continued to wear clerical dress. This meant there was no public knowledge of the real situation. The report rejects the explanation by gardaí of their handling of one of the complaints. The commission says the complainants statement seems to have been put in a drawer and forgotten until now.

The first complaint against Fr Ronat was made in 1989, to a curate in his parish. Bishop Magee was informed of the alleged abuse in 1995. Fr Ronat was placed on restricted ministry in 1998 and told not to have contact with young people but continued to officiate at Confirmation ceremonies. He was stood down from ministry in 2005 but was not asked to stop wearing clerical dress until 2008.

Many details on this and other complaints against him have been redacted from the report because of legal issues.