Rape-accused priest tells court: ‘We never claim to be perfect’

BBC [London, England]

May 21, 2021

A priest accused of raping a woman told a jury he went to her house to see if she would “make love” with him and said “we never claim to be perfect”.

Retired Roman Catholic priest John Clohosey, 72, who presided over churches across north-east England, is accused of attacking the woman in her Gateshead home in 1986.

Newcastle Crown Court has heard he forced himself upon her in her bedroom.

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

Giving evidence, he said the purpose of his visit to the woman’s home had been “friendship I suppose, and to see if she would like to make love”.

‘Human failings’

Asked how that reconciled with his vow of celibacy, he replied: “Human failings… we never claim to be perfect.”

Father Clohosey said during the visit he asked her to “make love” and she had said “no” more than once before she then agreed, “jumped up” and went to her bedroom, where he followed some minutes later.

She was partially clothed and he lay on top of her, the priest told the court, but he claimed there was no penetrative sex and he did not have an erection.

Father Clohosey said he felt “deflated” after the event and got dressed.

The priest, who grew up in Kilkenny, Ireland, said he called round a second time some weeks later – which the complainant disputes – and asked again if they could have sex, which he said she declined.

Earlier in the trial jurors heard his accuser, who cannot be identified, asked the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle for help to pay a legal bill and grew angry when she was turned down as the Catholic Church had paid out money to victims of sexual abuse.

She said in an email she had been abused by a priest years before, the court heard. She later told police she was raped in her home by Father Clohosey.

The trial has been adjourned until Monday.