'School principal terrorised and groped us at every opportunity'
Abuse victims weep in court as teacher (80) found guilty
OLD school friends wept and embraced in court after their 80-year-old former school principal Patrick Barry was found guilty of indecent assaults against them over a 21-year period.
The jury, after deliberating for five hours and 35 minutes, unanimously found Barry, of Well Road, Kilkee, Co Clare, guilty on 59 counts of indecent assault against 11 primary school girls between 1964 and 1985 at the two-teacher Moyasta school in west Clare.
One victim told the trial: "He took advantage of us, he used to grope us at every opportunity. I couldn't credit the man with anything. He terrorised all of us – I can't remember any happy moment at the school."
Judge Gerald Keyes, at Ennis Circuit Court, had directed the jury to find Barry not guilty on eight outstanding counts for legal reasons.
Counsel for the State, Anthony Sammon SC, said: "It is the express wish of the complainants that Mr Barry be named."
The judge ordered that Barry be identified and placed on the Sex Offenders' Register.
Barry taught third, fourth, fifth and sixth classes at the school. He served as school principal at Moyasta between 1964 and 1989.
One of the victims told the trial what Barry did at the country school while she was a pupil in the 1970s was "horrible".
The woman said: "We were country children and we were subjected to this behaviour. We didn't know what sex was, we certainly didn't know what he was doing, other than it was horrible and we knew that it wasn't right."
She said: "It is still horrible, it was wrong and it is still wrong."
She added: "We were country children in a country school abused by a man who had all of the power and who rammed his way into our families' lives.
"He would visit our parents. As a result, there was no win, it was the word of a child against him."
The victim told the jury that Barry "was a very violent, vicious teacher who had no respect for the children in his care".
Another victim told the court that Barry "molested me more than times than I care to remember" at the school.
She said that Barry inappropriately touched herself "and practically every other girl in the classroom" in 1976 and 1977.
The woman – who travelled back from the US to give evidence in the case – said that the inappropriate touching occurred "practically every day" when she was aged 11 and 12 while a pupil in Barry's fifth and sixth class.
She said: "We were all terrified going into his classroom because we had all heard bad stories from other girls."
The witness said that Barry would sit on his high stool at the top of the class "and bring you up to the top of the class, where he would pull you in with his legs and force your hands down on his private area".
The woman said: "He was a really terrible person to have to go to school with".
She added: "I hated him."
Judge Keyes remanded Barry on continuing bail to reappear before the court in October 28 to fix a date for sentence.
The victims continued to embrace each other outside the court, wiping the tears away from their eyes.