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IRELAND: 51-year-old NUN Nora Wall Found Guilty of Raping a 10-year-old Girl

London Times, 6 December 1999

WATERFORD — A nun has been found guilty of raping a 10-year-old child in her care. Nora Wall, 51, pinned the girl by the ankles while a homeless man raped her in a children's home here run by the Sisters of Mercy.

Wall, the first nun to be found guilty of rape in Ireland, was in charge of the home and guardian of the girl at the time of the attack, in about 1988.

The Sisters of Mercy said that they were "devastated by the revolting crimes" carried out against the girl, now 21. The victim was sent by the social services to St Michael's care centre in Cappoquin, Co Waterford, at age 6 following allegations that she had been sexually abused by her father.

The center cared for about 30 children and was designed to mimic family life, breaking with the Irish tradition of placing children in large industrial schools where physical and sexual abuse were rampant. Wall, who took the name of Sr. Dominic in 1966, was appointed director in 1978. She had undertaken several courses on childcare and was highly praised in references as "a professional".

But the victim's testimony portrayed her otherwise. Dublin's Central Criminal Court was told how the nun befriended the victim, got into her bed and started kissing and fondling the girl. Wall also took the girl to her room, decorated with religious relics, and abused her in her double bed.

When the victim was ten, Wall brought Paul McCabe, described in court as "a smelly vagabond", into the girl's bedroom. The nun sat at the bottom of the bed and held the girl's ankles while McCabe molested and raped her.

Wall, who denied rape and sexual assault, was convicted by a jury of eight men and four women. She was acquitted of a second charge of rape. McCabe, a schizophrenic, was also convicted of raping and sexually abusing the child. He became friendly with Wall when he returned to St Michael's to find out about his mother who had left him there as a child.

Five years ago, the Sisters of Mercy were such a respected part of Irish society that their founder was depicted on the country's £5 notes.

But recently there have been a series of child abuse scandals. Hundreds of former residents at Goldenbridge, a home run by the Sisters in Dublin, are suing them for abuse. Two years ago the Sisters paid out £20,000 to a couple whose 11-month-old baby died shortly after arriving at the home in 1955. She had burns and a hole "the size of a silver dollar" on her legs.

Wall is the first nun, but the 35th member of the Irish Roman Catholic clergy, to be convicted of child *** abuse. Other cases are outstanding. In one, Gardai (national police) have received 230 complaints against 75 priests who worked in Artane, a Christian Brothers School in Dublin that was home for about six years to Paul McCabe, Wall's co-accused.