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Friday 22 August 2014

Nun would tell pupils 'go to sleep' before abuse, court told

Greg Harkin

Published 15/11/2012 | 05:00

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A NUN would tell schoolgirls to go to sleep while she sexually abused one of their classmates, an alleged victim has told a court.

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The young girls, all aged seven or eight and in 3rd class, would be told in Irish "teigh i do chodladh" by placing their heads on their desks.

And whilst her classmates slept the nun would indecently assault her, the victim told a trial at Sligo Circuit Court.

Sister Mary Theresa Grogan (62), also known as Sister Peter, faces 63 counts of indecent assault against seven girls at a midlands school in the 1970s.

The offences are alleged to have taken place in a classroom and at library at the school between 1973 and 1977.

The alleged victim, now aged 47, wept as she told the jury of seven women and five men that she "loved" Sister Peter.

"She was the one teacher who didn't slap us; if we did things wrong, we didn't get slapped. She was my favourite teacher. I loved her. She gave me a lot of attention. She called me her pet," said the witness.

"It would be time to correct homework, she would beckon me up to her desk.

"Everybody else had to 'teigh i do chodladh' (go to sleep).

"I would put my homework on the desk and I would stand beside her. She would whisper in my ear and would tell me I was her pet and eventually she would rub me and put her hands inside my underwear."

The alleged victim says she only reported her alleged abuse after learning Sister Peter had returned from Africa in 2005 and was holding a fundraising event in their town.

She met with a nun from the same order "because my children were about to start school and I wanted to ensure there would be no nuns in the school".

Sister Grogan's defence put it to the witness that her claims were "nothing but a fiction".

Evidence

The defence also suggested that the witness had made the allegations because she was aware of six-figure sums paid out in child abuse cases.

"I have never pursued a civil case and I never will," the alleged victim replied.

A second alleged victim also began giving evidence against Sister Grogan.

The woman, now 45, told the trial, before Judge Donagh McDonagh, that she was called to the front of the class by the nun to have her homework checked.

While this was taking place, she alleged Sister Peter would touch her.

"She put her hand into my underwear," said the witness, crying through her evidence.

The alleged victim described the classroom, with the blackboard, the nun's desk and a crucifix on the wall.

"She (the nun) would say 'good girl' when she rubbed my bottom at her desk," she told the court. The witness will be cross-examined today.

Sister Grogan denies all the charges.

Irish Independent

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