Priest ‘said God bless after raping Gateshead woman’

BBC [London, England]

May 19, 2021

A priest said “God bless” to a woman after raping her, a court has heard.

Retired Roman Catholic priest John Anthony Clohosey, 72, is charged with raping the woman at her Gateshead home 35 years ago.

The woman made the accusation after her pleas for financial help from his diocese were turned down, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Father Clohosey, of St Mary’s Priory in Filey, North Yorkshire, denies the charge.

In a recorded police interview the woman said he wrote to her in 1986, after he moved parishes, asking to visit her.

Describing him arriving at her home, she said: “Immediately I was uneasy about the situation.”

She told the court that “out of the blue” he had said: “I wonder if you could help me out – will you have sex with me?”

The woman said she repeatedly told the priest “no” but he “pushed me on the shoulder and caught me off guard immediately”.

‘Ridiculous thing to say’

The woman said Father Clohosey then raped her in a bedroom.

She said when he left “he was quite calm, he wasn’t flustered, he wasn’t panicked” and told her: “Goodnight, God bless”.

In her police interview, she said that comment was “a ridiculous thing to say in the circumstances”.

Father Clohosey told police in 2019 he did ask her for sex but they had then kissed and cuddled.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, told jurors: “He said she said no five or six times but then agreed to have sex with him.”

Father Clohosey told detectives they went into her bedroom but then did not have sex.

‘Paying off victims’

Newcastle Crown Court heard the complainant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, approached her local priest – who is not the defendant – asking that the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle help her to pay an outstanding legal bill.

When she was told the request did not meet its charitable objectives she emailed her priest to say: “It seems paying off victims of priests’ abuse does come under its objectives but helping families in times of dire need does not.

“I too was abused at the hands of a Catholic priest many, many years ago. I chose not to speak out because of my shame and respect for the Catholic church.

“They have now shown me they didn’t deserve my respect.”

The parish priest contacted the diocese’s safeguarding department and police were contacted.

The trial continues.