Priest Raped 13-Year-Old Girl in Sacristy of Church

By Tomas Mac Ruairi
Irish Examiner
June 1, 2006

A 48-YEAR-OLD Donegal priest has been found guilty of twice raping a 13-year-old parishioner in the church sacristy over 20 years ago.

Father Daniel Doherty, Derriscleigh, Carrigart, was remanded on continuing bail for sentence on October 23.

Mr Justice Philip O'Sullivan also certified him to be registered as a sex offender under the legislation and directed the preparation of a victim impact report.

The jury at the Central Criminal Court took 5 1/2 hours to find him guilty by majority verdicts on two charges of raping the then 13-year-old in the sacristy on dates in 1985.

The jury found him not guilty of raping her in the parochial house in 1985 but guilty of indecently assaulting her on that occasion. He was also found guilty of indecently assaulting her in his car on a date in December 1984.

Doherty had denied all the charges during his seven-day trial and gave evidence to the jury in his defence.

He was remanded on bail on condition that he stay at an address given to gardai, sign on weekly at a named garda station, surrender his passport and not leave the State without informing the gardai.

Mr Justice O'Sullivan told the jury of seven men and five women they had displayed "remarkable attention and care" during the case.

The woman told Denis Vaughan Buckley, prosecuting, on the second day of the trial that she first made her allegations formally in a letter to the bishop in 2003. That led to the garda investigation and to the subsequent trial.

She told how Doherty stopped his car at a pier while driving her home one night in December 1984 and then climbed on top of her, kissing her and touching her body.

She described how in 1985 he raped her for the first time in the toilet at the sacristy. She said she thought she was going to the church for a reading rehearsal but found him working on the amplification.

She wanted to use the toilet and planned to go to an outside facility but Doherty said she should use the toilet in the sacristy and then came in when she was there. He then raped her.

She said she told her friend about this incident and they agreed that in future they would always go together to the church.

She said the second rape happened when she and her friend were late for confession and Doherty said he would hear theirs in the sacristy.

When her friend was finished and left the sacristy, he said to her: "What am I going to do for you?"

She became frightened and backed against a wall, where he pulled down her trousers and kissed her while repeatedly telling her he was "very excited". He then raped her.

She told how she met Doherty in the parochial house, where she said he had a booklet which she later learned was a family planning advice publication.

Her sister and friend advised her not to go back near Doherty again on her own.

Some time later he sent for her again and she went to the parochial house.

She said that on this occasion Doherty took her upstairs to his bedroom and told her he wanted to experience sex in a bed.

Mr Vaughan Buckley told Mr Justice O'Sullivan that the victim had no objection to Doherty being named in media reports, even though it might lead to her being identified.


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