Woman tells court she was abused in hospital aged 13

RTE News
July 1, 2015

Dolores Atwood said she first met Mr Burke when she was a schoolgirl

A woman who alleges she was sexually abused by a catholic priest in Nigeria has told the High Court she was first abused while in hospital at the age of 13.

Dolores Atwood has begun giving evidence in a defamation case taken by former archbishop Richard Burke, who claims he was wrongly branded a paedophile in an RTÉ television programme.

Ms Atwood said she first met Mr Burke when she was a schoolgirl and had gone to her local church to buy rosary beads.

She said she began meeting him after mass on Sundays and he began giving her hugs.

Ms Atwood said she found it very comforting as she had no emotional support at home. Her parents had divorced and she had problems with her stepmother.

She said she was admitted to hospital in 1983 with typhoid fever and Mr Burke came to visit her.

While he was in her room there was a power cut and when the lights went out he kissed her and touched her inappropriately.

She said when the lights went back on he had returned to his position and was trying to make eye contact with her.

She did not see him for sometime after that and he told her he had been away.

She said the next time they met he hugged and kissed her.  

Mr Burke denies the claims made in the 2011 RTÉ documentary 'A Mission To Prey'. 

He says Ms Atwood was 20 years old when they first had sex. He also claims she was 17 or 18 when they first met and there was no previous sexual contact.

Mr Burke told the court he had sexual relationships with several other people while he was a bishop in Nigeria. He resigned his position in 2010.

Ms Atwood's evidence continues this afternoon.



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