Suspended Sentence for Former Priest
By Tomas Mac Ruairi
Kilkenny Advertiser [Ireland]
October 11, 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 at Chesterton Lane, Gloustershire, England, pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting the boys on dates from February to September 1978.
The victims were then aged nine and six years respectively and Cleere abused them while acting as a teenage 'house person' at the Mount Carmel Orphanage in County Westmeath.
Judge White previously criticised the orphanage authorities and health board officials for not informing An Garda Siochana when the first complaints made in 1988 by one of the victims and after Cleere had admitted his offending 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 said the victim impact reports which described how the abuse had severely impacted on 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 the evidence given by Detective Sergeant Michael O'Leary that Cleere invited the victims to his room where he abused them sexually.
Judge White said that normally this type of offence would merit a substantial prison sentence and the court did not accept the view put forward by the defence that it would have been dealt with non-custodially if it had come before the courts in 1988.
Cleere was only 18 years old at the time of his offending. 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 An Garda Siochana.
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."
Judge White said previously that the courts ought to be able to decide if Cleere was still a danger to society by its own report and shouldn't have to decide this issue solely on defence evidence as in this case and had adjourned the case for the preparation of a Probation and Welfare Services Report to see if there were conditions that the court should apply with a suspended sentence.
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