Cardinal sued by woman who accused priest of raping her
Published 19/03/2010 | 05:00
UNDER-fire Cardinal Sean Brady admitted last night he was sued by a young woman who accused a priest in his Armagh diocese of raping her.
The case was settled in January when the woman received €50,000 from the priest over the allegation he raped her in 1997.
A day after being quizzed by police, the priest was suspended by Dr Brady from his ministry, banned from saying Mass, hearing confessions and having access to minors.
The priest was later tried in a Northern Ireland court for the sexual assault of another teenager but he was acquitted.
Dr Brady, as Archbishop of Armagh, was named as a co-defendant in a civil action taken by a woman because the priest worked in his diocese.
She was 17 when she alleges she was raped in 1997, but Dr Brady last night denied he sought to impose a secrecy deal over the case.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, the alleged victim yesterday said she was gagged from speaking about the settlement by the priest's lawyers.
"I still have nightmares," she said.
But crucially for the cardinal, the woman said she didn't want to see him resign, calling him the "best of a bad bunch".
She added: "I don't see any advantage for him to resign. He has proven to me over the last few months that he has taken some actions and perhaps he is the best person to move things forward. Who would replace him? He is the best of a bad bunch."
The victim said her father personally pleaded with Dr Brady to drop the secrecy clause which the priest wanted to protect his family.
It is understood the cardinal had a separate legal team and told her father the inclusion of the clause was not up to him.
The disclosure comes as Dr Brady continues to come under pressure to quit as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
He has come under stringent criticism from abuse victims and others over his role in the silencing of two victims of Fr Brendan Smyth in 1975.
His defenders have insisted the oath was taken in an era when there were no rules.
Dr Brady admitted he was "ashamed" if his failures had hurt people and said he wanted to stop the "drip, drip" of abuse revelations.
News of the €50,000 settlement raises questions about how many abuse cases were settled in return for secret payments and secrecy clauses insisted upon by church lawyers.
The settlement was for Stg£45,000, representing both damages and legal costs.
She alleges the priest masturbated in front of her, and after she complained to a school principal she alleges the priest raped her. He allegedly warned there would be more abuse unless she withdrew her complaint -- which she did.
"He had me convinced that nobody would believe me," she added.
She made a complaint to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2002 but the DPP in Belfast directed that there was not sufficient evidence to bring a case against the man.
But in 2003, she launched a civil action in the High Court, naming the priest and Dr Brady, who was responsible for the cleric in his role as Archbishop of Armagh, as the defendants.
Dr Brady began a church hearing against the priest -- known as a canonical process -- and the woman gave evidence against the cleric.
The woman said last night that she did not want to settle the case but she could not compete financially with the priest, who was receiving legal aid for his case.
"I couldn't take the chance of losing everything," she said. "I never wanted to be gagged and my dad tried to make sure that I couldn't."