Archbishop apologises for sex abuse priest
Judge tells Wrixon: 'You are no longer a priest and rightly so'
November 18, 2010
ARCHBISHOP Dermot Clifford, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne, has apologised to a Corkman who was the victim of sexual abuse by a priest of the diocese when he was just a teenager over 25 years ago.
Archbishop Clifford, in a statement read out at masses in the diocese over the weekend, said he deeply regretted the abuse perpetrated on the young man in the early 1980s by Fr Brendan Wrixon while he was in active ministry in the Diocese of Cloyne. ARCHBISHOP Dermot Clifford has apologised to a Corkman who was the victim of sexual abuse by a priest of the diocese when he was just a teenager over 25 years ago.
In a statement read out at masses in the diocese over the weekend, Archbishop Clifford, whois the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne, said he deeply regretted the abuse perpetrated on the young man in the early 1980s by Fr Brendan Wrixon while he was in active ministry in the diocese.
"I am deeply sorry that the trust of a young person was betrayed by one of our priests and I wish to apologise and express to him and his family my sincere regret," said Archbishop Clifford in a statement regarding Fr Wrixon whom he described as "a retired priest".
"Fr Wrixon has not held a diocesan appointment since 2005. He is restricted to the celebration of Holy Mass in private in his home without a congregation and he may not engage in priestly ministry in public. He is also not allowed to wear clerical dress or present himself as a priest," the statement said.
Archbishop Clifford issued the statement after Wrixon (74) was given an 18 month suspended jail term by Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin when he pleaded guilty last week at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to a sexual offence against the then 16 year old youth.
Wrixon, with an address at Rossacon, Newmarket, pleaded guilty to one of three counts of gross indecency with the teenager, namely that he committed a gross indecency with him at the Convent of Mercy, Bathview, Mallow, between October 16 1982 and February 15 1983.
Imposing sentence, Judge Ó Donnabháin said that Wrixon was guilty of a gross breach of trust and had not only "violated the law of the country but also your own religious laws and whatever tenets you believed in as a priest".
Det Garda Colman Murphy told the court that gardai received a complaint from the now middle aged injured party in 2005 and twice interviewed Wrixon in relation to the allegations that he had engaged in sexual acts with the complainant when he was aged just 16.
The complainant told gardai that he was attending a Diocese of Cloyne workshop at the Convent of Mercy in Mallow and went to confession to Wrixon in a private room and that Wrixon asked him to take off his clothes and then touched his genitals and kissed his lips.
Although the teenager had known Wrixon for some time, it was the first time that he had made a sexual approach to him and, in all, the victim reported 20 incidents including some where he had to perform oral sex on Wrixon, said Det Murphy.
Gardai twice questioned Wrixon who told them that between Easter and December 1983, he had six to seven sexual encounters with the complainant in which they mutually masturbated each other but he couldn't recall the locations.
Wrixon told gardai that the first sexual incident was in the sacristy of the church in Shanballymore in North Cork where he partially undressed the victim to show him his sexual organ and the victim became embarrassed and started to cry and began to hug him.
That was the first time that the victim had responded to him and he recalled another occasion where they were walking together on a quiet country road and began to touch each other's genitalia though he couldn't remember if it ended in mutual masturbation.
Defence counsel, Tim O'Leary SC said that his client had resigned from the priesthood and had gone for counselling to the Granada Centre in Dublin when the first complaint was received in 2005 and he had since seen psychotherapist, Eddie Hogan.
Mr O'Leary pointed out his client had no previous convictions nor was he being investigated for another complaint and he had also pleaded guilty to the offence while he was also facing devastating consequences in his own community from the exposure of his actions.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said Wrixon was guilty of a huge breach of trust, both because of the huge difference in age between himself and his victim but also because it happened "between a confessor and a penitent during what you, as a priest, then regarded as a sacrament".
"You are no longer a priest and rightly so; you don't deserve to be a priest," said Judge Ó Donnabháin before recognising that Wrixon's guilty plea had both spared his victim the trauma of a trial while also providing public acknowledgement of how he had wronged him.
"I hope the exposure of the offence and all the evidence in open court will be a vindication to the victim," said Judge Ó Donnabháin, adding that Wrixon's decision to go for treatment prior to the initiation of any prosecution was unusual and something that merited credit.
He also noted that both the Granada Institute and Mr Hogan believed that he was at a low risk of re-offending and that the State had confirmed that there were no further matters out there. He imposed an 18 month sentenced but suspended it on condition Wrixon be of good behaviour.
Afterwards, Archbishop Clifford urged any one who may have been the victim of child sexual abuse within the church or may have concerns about anyone being abused within the church to contact the gardai and the HSE or himself directly or the Diocesan Child Protection Designated Officer, Fr John McCarthy.