Former Priest Gets Suspended Term for Sex Abuse

One in Four [Ireland]
October 9, 2006

A former priest has been given a five year suspended sentence by Judge Michael White at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for sexually assaulting two young boys in care almost 30 years ago.

Gerard Cleere (46), with addresses at Riverside Drive, Kilkenny and Chesterton Lane, Gloucestershire, England, pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting the boys between February and September 1978. The victims were then aged nine and six years and Cleere abused them while acting as a teenage "house person" at the Mount Carmel Orphanage in Co Westmeath.

Judge White previously criticised the orphanage authorities and health board officials for not informing gardaí when the first complaints were made in 1988 by one of the victims and after Cleere had admitted his offences to them.

"There is no place for serious breaches of the criminal law such as sexual abuse of children being dealt with privately," he said.

Judge White added that the victim impact reports, which described how the abuse had severely affected their lives, "made very sad reading".

"This was an unforgivable and horrific breach of trust of vulnerable young boys who were let down badly by the institutions while in the care of agents of the State."

He noted from the evidence given by Det Sgt Michael O'Leary that Cleere invited the victims to his room where he abused them sexually. Cleere was only 18 when he committed the offences.

When confronted he admitted his abuse of the boys and underwent treatment at the Granada Institute. The case had been "further complicated" by the failure of the relevant authorities then to inform gardaí

Judge White said Cleere had also pleaded guilty and that due to "all the substantial mitigating factors" in the case, the court believed it would be inappropriate to impose a custodial sentence.

Placing him on the sexual offenders register would in itself constitute "a severe punishment".


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