Former priest jailed for abusing children

By Anne Lucey
Irish Times
February 23, 2008

A former Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to 53 counts of indecently assaulting children has been jailed for four years.

The Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee heard yesterday how the children were members of one family and had been targeted when they reached the age of eight or nine - the abuse usually stopped when they reached their mid-teens.

John Brosnan (58) had pleaded guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee to 53 counts of indecently assaulting the children, who included boys and girls, between 1965 and 1973, when arraigned in January of this year.

The former priest has already completed a four-year sentence for the abuse of five teenage girls while he worked as a chaplain in a school in the late 1970s and early 1980s after a conviction in 1997. He now lived as a recluse, suffered from depression and was receiving treatment for a heart condition, his sentencing hearing heard.

Brosnan was an only child. Most of the abuse related to the period while he was a student priest in Maynooth. It followed a pattern of targeting the children when they reached the age of eight, nine or 10 continuing until they were in their mid-teens. Then it would stop and he would then move to the younger child.

One of the offences related to when he was ordained a priest. He had showed one of the girls pornographic images of naked men and women and had forced one of the boys into indecent acts with him.

Graphic details of the abuse were given in court. Thirty-two of the counts related to one of the girls, and 16 to one of the boys.

The complaints came to light in March 2006 when one of the victims told of the abuse after suffering nightmares. Another of the victims had blacked out the memory of the abuse, finding it too painful to remember. Another found it difficult to deal with life and has suffered depression throughout his adult life.

The family were very quiet and very sincere and did not want to upset the church, Judge Carroll Moran noted in his resume of the evidence.

None wanted to give evidence or make a victim impact statement and wanted to remain anonymous.

John O'Sullivan, counsel for Brosnan, said his client had volunteered a significant amount of information to gardaí and had given detail and incidents that would otherwise not be known.

The judge took into account his early guilty plea and co- operation with gardaí .

He also took into account the fact the cases were "very old" but no point had been raised by Brosnan and his legal team on the question of delay.

The judge also accepted that he was remorseful and was undergoing treatment for his problem of abusing children. No other charges or investigations were against him at this time.

However, Brosnan had "devastated" the family. "There is no overstating the damage he must have done to this family," the judge said.

He made an order that the anonymity of the victims be preserved and sentenced Brosnan to four years. The judge complimented investigating garda Det John Evans who he said was "very measured and very fair to the accused while at the same time articulating in a very proper way the damage done to the victims" .

Mr O'Sullivan asked the judge to consider his client's ill-health and suspend some of the sentence.

However, Judge Moran said: "I did think of that. I just can't".

Prosecuting counsel Tom Rice asked that Brosnan be under supervision when released from prison and Judge Moran ordered post-release supervision for one year.






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