Comiskey alerted US church authorities about Wexford cleric

By Anne Marie O'Connor
Gorey Guardian
June 6, 2002

Bishop Brendan Comiskey twice alerted US church authorities that allegations of child sexual abuse had been made against Taghmon born cleric, Monsignor Michael Ledwith.

Ledwith fled Ireland to take up ministry in the States in 1994 following a child sex abuse allegation.

Revelations of Bishop Comiskey's handling of the abuse claims follows on from confirmation by the trustees at the national seminary in Maynooth that their former president, Mgr Ledwith, was the subject of sexual abuse allegations prior to his 'surprise' departure eight years ago.

A statement from the Ferns Diocese this week noted that Bishop Comiskey had written to Archbishop Murphy in the US on learning that Ledwith had taken up ministry in Seattle. A further letter, detailing the sexual abuse allegations surrounding Ledwith, were also forwarded to Archbishop Murphy's successor in 2000.

The statement also claimed that Gardai and the Health Board were notified in regard to the complaint, and the complainants family was also advised to contact the Health Board and Gardai.

Mgr. Ledwith, the Taghmon born cleric, quit his post at St. Patrick's College in Maynooth in 1994, and since then the Church failed to answer questions about his premature departure, which had been reported at the time as 'a surprise development'.

However on Friday the Office of the President of Maynooth College, on behalf of the 17 trustees, issued a statement that in 1994 an allegation of 'sexual abuse of a minor' had been made against the high ranking cleric.

Having sought his own legal advice, Mgr. Ledwith entered into discussions with the complainant, and reached a private settlement without admission of liability.

The settlement was funded by Mgr. Ledwith privately without any assistance by St. Patrick's College, or the Church.

The statement from the Diocese of Ferns also points out that they had 'no role in the settlement of a civil claim'.

The alleged victim in the case is thought to have been a clerical student in the college during the early 1990's.

Michael Ledwith was born in 1942 in Taghmon, and attended St. Peter's College before shooting to academic excellence in St. Patrick's College, Maynooth.

After several appointments in Maynooth, he became the College's 25th president in 1985.

Prior to leaving Maynooth he was deemed one of the top theologians in Ireland, and a most respected and senior education figure.

Now living in the US, it is believed he is now a guest lecturer to followers of new age religion, and has been a regular lecturer at the Washington School of Religious Enlightenment.

The confirmation of allegations by Maynooth College came as a last resort for the trustee's of St. Patrick's College, who until recently had dealth with his departure in silence.


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