Priest gets 4 years' jail for sex assaults on teenage boys

Irish Times
March 26, 1998

A retired Co Wexford priest was sentenced to four years in prison at Wexford Circuit Court yesterday when he pleaded guilty to charges of gross indecency and indecent assault against teenage boys.

Father Donal Collins (61), a former school principal, of Coolrainey, Curracloe, presented a written apology to the court, expressing sorrow to his victims for the pain and trauma he had caused them. The priest sat with his head bent as his four victims outlined to Judge Olive Buttimer the damaging effect that the abuse had on their lives. The men were teenagers aged between 14 and 17 when the offences took place between 1972 and 1984 in the boarding school in Co Wexford which three of them attended. One was a day pupil in the same school.

The defendant, who was principal of the school, invited them separately to his living room and initiated the assaults.

One victim, who is now 36, and has been in counselling for the past four years, told Judge Buttimer that because of the abuse he found it impossible to initiate relationships with girls and this had caused a "deep sadness in his life".

He said he experienced suicidal tendencies for a time, he gave up his job and effectively opted out of society for several years.

As he spoke, another victim broke down sobbing and left the courtroom for a few minutes to regain his composure.

When he took the witness stand he said he had suffered a "lot of miserable nights in the school". Mr Erwan Mill Arden SC said his client had dedicated his life to the advancement of others both as a teacher and a priest. But one corner of that life was evil and he appreciated that he had to pay for it. Collins, who suffers from a serious muscular condition as well as a heart problem, had his right arm in a sling following a recent fall and walked into court with the aid of a stick. He had to be assisted in standing up.

In sentencing him to concurrent terms of four years in prison on five charges of indecent assault and terms of two years on four charges of gross indecency, Judge Buttimer said she was influenced by the suffering of the victims and the serious breach of trust involved.

She agreed to review the sentence in 12 months because of Collins's medical condition.


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