Priest goes on trial for indecently assaulting boy in sickbay

By Liam Heylin
Irish Examiner
February 22, 2018

A priest has gone on trial accused of indecently assaulting a boy in a Co Cork school sickbay in the early 1980s.

Tadgh O’Dalaigh, aged 73, of Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin, pleaded not guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to a charge of indecent assault on an unknown date between September 1, 1980, and January 28, 1981, at Sacred Heart college, also known as Coláiste An Chroi Naofa, Carraig Na Bhfear.

Siobhán Lankford, prosecuting, said the accused was a priest in the school at the time, which catered for boarders and day-pupils. It was alleged the complainant was in bed in the sickbay on the evening of the disputed indecent assault.

Shane Costelloe, defending, stressed from the outset of his cross-examination of the complainant: “He does not accept the allegation you have made.”

Ms Lankford said the alleged indecent assault occurred at a time when the accused went in to check his temperature in the sickbay.

The complainant said: “He put his hand down and touched my testicles and penis. I just lay there.

I didn’t know what to do. It was probably a minute, a minute and a half. That is a long time when he is at me. He stopped. He left. I was left lying there.” He said he did not tell anyone about it until about 30 years later.

Mr Costelloe said: “My client absolutely refutes that. He says that never happened.” He said his client was included in media coverage of alleged incidents at the school and that it was also raised in the Seanad.

The complainant said: “Yes, I read newspaper article and it brought it all back up again.”

Mr Costelloe said O’Dalaigh was convicted of indecent assault on another boy but this conviction was quashed by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

He said that the initial coverage of the accused being convicted of sexually abusing a boy in a sickbay appeared in newspapers including the Irish Examiner in June 2014 and that it was three days later that he [complainant in the present case] went to the gardaí to make his complaint.

“I went because it was being denied [by the defendant] in the paper. It made me angry… I read something where he denied something. That spurred me,” he said.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan warned the jury not to discuss the case with strangers. “That includes Mr and Mrs Google. That would be to look for evidence you do not hear in this courtroom. It would be the same as bringing a total stranger into the jury room.”

The case continues today.


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