Rape accusation against former County Durham priest followed plea for help

Northern Echo [Darlington, England]

May 19, 2021

By Georgia Banks

A woman has accused a County Durham Roman Catholic priest of rape after her pleas for financial help from his diocese were turned down.

Retired John Anthony Clohosey, 72, was suspended from his duties at Lady Immaculate and St Cuthbert’s RC Church, in Crook, in 2019.

At the time, diocesan safeguarding coordinator, Angie Richardson, said: “The safeguarding department of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle is currently cooperating with Northumbria Police to assist with their investigation.

“It is standard practice for the Bishop to support parishioners in these circumstances.”

Clohosey denies the offence – said to have happened in 1986 at a different church – but told police he did ask her for sex and that they had kissed and cuddled.

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 she was “devastated” that she had been turned down.

The woman said: “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.”

Our Lady Immaculate and Saint Cuthbert R C Church. Picture: Google
Our Lady Immaculate and Saint Cuthbert R C Church. Picture: Google

The woman said Father Clohosey, then a curate, asked to visit her home on Tyneside, some time in 1986.

The woman described his arrival as “awkward” while they chatted, but that she was “gobsmacked” when he suddenly asked her for sex.

In a video played to the jury, she said: “He just said out of the blue, ‘I wonder if you would help me out’ and I looked at him and he said ‘would you have sex with me’.”

She asked him to leave and alleged he raped her on a bed.

As the curate left her home, she said he told her: “Goodbye, God bless.”

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

After the woman’s email to her parish priest, he contacted the diocese’s safeguarding department about her allegations and police were contacted.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said Clohosey was interviewed by police in September 2019 and he denied raping the woman but did say he asked her for sex.

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

Clohosey, of St Mary’s Priory, Filey, North Yorkshire, told detectives they went into her bedroom where they kissed and cuddled but they did not have sex as his penis “went flaccid”.

The trial continues.