Cardinal unaware of sex allegation

By Marese McDonagh
October 10, 2002

Cardinal Desmond Connell signed a letter of reference for a priest who had been accused of sexual abuse, clearing the way for him to go the United States.

The cardinal has confirmed that he signed the letter for Father Patrick Hughes but said he was unaware of the allegations at the time.

The priest had been accused of abusing a nine-year-old altar boy in the 1970s. The Church authorities were informed in 1974.

Father Patrick Hughes went to the US in 1988 where he continued with his ministry. In 1993 almost 20 years after the complaint was made Father Hughes paid his victim £50,000 after civil proceedings were initiated.

According to the latest issue of the Irish Catholic published today the Dublin diocese did not keep a record of the 1974 complaint and the cardinal was unaware of the allegations.

He learned about the abuse in 1993 around the same time as Father Hughes settled the civil claim for £50,000. This is one of a number of cases to be probed by RTE's Prime Time in a special one hour documentary due to be screened on October 17.

When the case became public in 1995 the Dublin diocese issued a statement saying Father Hughes had settled the claim. Prime Time will also examine the cases of Father Ivan Payne who is expected to be released soon after serving over four years in prison and Father Tony Walsh who admitted abuse in 1995.






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