Priest who abused boy not a danger as he is not a paedophile, court is told

Irish Times
November 18, 1999

A catholic priest who indecently assaulted a 12-year-old boy in a boarding school was not a danger to children because he had homosexual rather than paedophile tendencies, a court was told yesterday.

Tadhg O Dalaigh (56) who was in charge of supervising boys at the Sacred Heart College, Carrignavar, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to 10 charges of indecent assault in the early 1970s in Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

His victim described how the priest had destroyed his life and asked that he be named publicly. He told how the priest, a teacher in the school who was transferred to Dublin after the abuse was reported, came to his bed after the dormitory lights were turned off and sexually abused him.

"I spent 22 years of my life running away from something that was not my fault. At the time I was not in a position to turn to anyone. We were not able to speak about these things.

"I failed my Leaving Cert and ran away from home. I went through a suicidal period, became anorexic and spent a lot of time in hospital. I got married and it broke up disastrously. Too many ghosts were locked away. The first time I managed to speak to anyone was to my present partner in 1993.

"I had to open up. I spent many years in hell. I would like to get out of hell. I hope now I can stop running" he said.

O Dalaigh said he was very sorry for what he had done. He was abused himself when he was nine and had received counselling in recent years.

Mr Patrick Randle, a senior clinical psychologist with the Granada Institute in Dublin, said O Dalaigh had been receiving treatment with it since 1996. He was emotionally distressed. He said that while O Dalaigh had sexually abused children, he did not have primary erotic intentions towards them as he was not into children, but was homosexual with his primary interest being in adult males. He was aware of the damage he had done and suffered severe nightmares.

He said that while he was low risk with regard to re-offending he needed ongoing treatment. Mr Tom Creed told Judge Patrick Moran there were over 200 sex offenders in Irish prisons and only 10 treatment places in Arbour Hill.

Judge Moran sentenced O Dalaigh to three years in prison stating that he had abused his position of trust.

The judge recommended that O Dalaigh would serve his sentence in Arbour Hill and that he would receive treatment there.

After the case, the victim in a statement made through his solicitor, Ms Sinead Behan, said he was very relieved that the court recognised that a custodial sentence should be imposed in this case.

He hoped this would give others the courage to come forward and tell their stories.

Ms Behan confirmed the man had issued civil proceedings against the Sacred Heart Order and O Dalaigh.





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