Judgment Reserved in Priest's Rape Appeal

By Tim Healy
Irish Independent

July 15, 2008

JUDGMENT has been reserved in an appeal brought by a priest against his conviction and seven-year prison sentence for raping a teenage parishioner in a church sacristy more than 20 years ago.

The appeal was brought by Fr Daniel Doherty (49), of Derriscleigh, Carrigart, Co Donegal, against his conviction on two charges each of rape and indecent assault.

The Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) was yesterday told certain evidence put before the jury in his trial should not have been included as it was highly predjudicial to the defence.

In May 2006, Doherty was found guilty of raping the girl, then aged 13, in the sacristy in 1985. He was also found guilty of indecently assaulting her in the parochial house in 1985 and in his car in December 1984.

Mr Justice Philip O'Sullivan sentenced Doherty to seven years in prison and certified Doherty to be registered as a sex offender.

Yesterday Ms Justice Fidelma Macken said it was highly unlikely the court would have a decision before the end of the month, when the current legal term expires, because there were so many cases to be dealt with.

In his appeal, Doherty's counsel argued that material put before the jury, such as statements from witnesses, including the complainant's teachers and her friends at the time of the allegations, was not relevant to the trial. Counsel for the DPP countered that the statements were put before the jury following agreement with Doherty's legal team at the time.

The woman in the case raised her allegations in a letter to the Bishop of Raphoe, Dr Seamus Hegarty, in 2003, prompting the Garda investigation and then the trial.

A complaint made to her teachers in the 1980s had not led to the claims being properly investigated.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.