Jail for brother who duped family over abuse of boy

By Michael Quinn
Irish Independent
July 14, 1999

A BROTHER of Charity was jailed for two years yesterday for sexual abuse of a 13-year-old boy.A court in Waterford heard how Brother Denis Quirke betrayed the trust of the boy's parents, who were deeply religious people.

Quirke (55), the novice master and head of the Brothers' Belmont Park Hospital in Waterford, pleaded guilty at Waterford Circuit Court.

He admited three counts of buggery, two counts of gross indecency, and two counts of indecent assault on the boy, between 1985 and 1987.

Judge Olive Buttimer said she could not ignore the evidence that Brother Quirke abused a position of trust and used alcohol on his victim whom he met at a prayer meeting.


He also used his position as a religious man and the abuse continued over two years and had a devastating effect on the boy.

Brother Quirke, who returned from the order's house in Rome to answer the charges, had been in custody since April for the preparation of a Victim Impact Report.

The court heard at a previous sitting that the victim was now a ``broken man'' due to the abuse and alcoholism, and he had attempted suicide by an overdose of pills.

The victim had a strict religious upbringing and his family was entirely happy with the relationship with Brother Quirke, whom they felt was a person of trust.

The offences took place at Belmont Park and when Brother Quirke took the boy and a cousin camping and gave him cigarettes, alcohol, a watch, a pen and a bicycle.

The abuser and victim first met at a prayer meeting, said Tom Teehan, for the DPP. The victim's father was of a stern nature and the boy formed what he thought was a surrogate relationship with Brother Quirke.

John O'Kelly BL, defending, said since the abuse first came to light in 1990 the accused had been under virtual ``house arrest'' in his order and living under a strict regime and worked long hours seven days a week.

From the start he ``came clean'' and undertook psychiatric treatment to face up to what he had done. He made a statement to the gardai against legal advice.


Clinical psychologist Dr Peter Raj said Brother Quirke had been removed from contact with young people and was never allowed out on his own to ensure that there was no repetition. He now realised the seriousness of his crime and the revelation of his abuse ``killed his father'' who died after his son was jailed for a first offence in 1996.

The accused himself had been abused when he was a boy.

When living in Rome his superiors there were aware of his abuse and he lived under the same strict regime.

Under treatment he had shown extreme remorse and empathised with his victim. He had remained in the religious life although he had seriously contravened his religious vows and he would carry his crime to the grave.

Judge Buttimer backdated the sentence to April 21 and refused leave to appeal.



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