Ex-priest admits sexual assaults

Irish Times
October 28, 2000

A former priest has been given a five-year suspended sentence for indecently assaulting two girls more than 30 years ago.

James Murphy (76), married with a family, of Emyvale, Co Monaghan, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three charges of committing the offences on dates from November 1969 to August 1970.

Garda Liam Maher said the assaults happened at two addresses in a south Leinster town. The defendant was a curate then in the diocese of Ossory, having left a monastery due to ill health.

Garda Maher told Ms Mary Ellen Ring, prosecuting, that the victims were aged 14 and 10 when the abuse began. Murphy had become a family friend. He was trusted and considered a father figure.

The abuse consisted of French kissing and improper touching. Neither victim knew the other was being abused until many years later when they confided in other family members, who then confronted the priest.

He admitted abusing the girls, and formal complaints were made to the Garda. Garda Maher agreed with Mr Patrick MacEntee SC, defending (with Ms Aileen Donnelly), that the defendant had no previous convictions and had co-operated fully with gardai. He was aged 18 when he entered the monastery.

One of the victims told Mr Justice Carney that the abuse had blighted her life through causing her estrangement from her family. It had also affected her achievements in life.

The court heard medical evidence that Murphy suffered from prostate cancer and high blood pressure. He had had a brain haemorrhage and had developed Parkinson's disease.

Mr Justice Carney said that despite his age and health he would have jailed Murphy if the circumstances had required it. He took into account that Murphy had started a new family and the offences had happened a long time ago.






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