Tuesday 25 April 2017

Chaplain shared bed with teen pupils on school trip, court told

A 28-year-old woman claims she was sexually abused by a school chaplain over a three-year period, including sharing a bed with the priest and another student during a trip overseas. Stock Picture
A 28-year-old woman claims she was sexually abused by a school chaplain over a three-year period, including sharing a bed with the priest and another student during a trip overseas. Stock Picture

Tim Healy

A woman claims she was sexually abused by a school chaplain over a three-year period, including sharing a bed with the priest and another student during a trip overseas.

The 28-year-old woman, who alleges the abuse began when she was a transition year student, has launched a High Court action for damages.

"He exploited her continually and regularly," said Jack Fitzgerald SC, for the woman.

"His attitude to the claim and what she says happened is that none of it ever happened."

The woman has sued the priest as well as the school and the local bishop. They have denied the claims.

Mr Justice Robert Eagar was told the school claims it is not vicariously liable for any alleged actions of the priest.

She claims that between 2004 and 2007 she was repeatedly and wrongfully physically and sexually assaulted, falsely imprisoned and sexually abused.

She says she was subjected to sexualised behaviour by the Catholic chaplain and teacher in her secondary school.

She has alleged that on a school trip abroad, when she was 16 years of age, he invited her and another student to sleep in his bed with him.

The three of them spent the night together in his bed, she claims.

The priest, she has further claimed, was very attentive to her on the trip and after that sent her private text messages.

She has also claimed the priest continued to send private text messages to her and they became increasingly personal and sexual in nature.

She has alleged the priest bought a mobile phone for the specific purpose of texting her and allegedly advised her they would wait until she was 17 before they could take the relationship further.

A few days after she turned 17, the priest brought the girl and some friends to the cinema. She claims when he took her home he kissed her.

It is claimed the physical contact developed and progressed from kissing and cuddling to oral sex.

She has claimed the priest was held in high regard by everyone. Her counsel said the woman first made her allegations in 2011 and the school board of management conducted an inquiry and found there had been no sexual contact between the two.

A later assessment found the priest to be a low risk. The case continues.

Irish Independent

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