Worrying links existed between serial abusers
Archbishop Martin asked gardai to probe the possibility that there was a paedophile ring within Church, writes Maeve Sheehan
Published 29/11/2009 | 05:00
WHEN Archbishop Diarmuid Martin reached into the vaults of the Dublin Archdiocese to review the files on the hundreds of children abused by its priests, he was worried enough by the connections between paedophile priests that he asked gardai to investigate the possibility that a paedophile ring existed in the Church. There was no direct evidence to convince Judge Yvonne Murphy's inquiry when it reported last week. But there were enough worrying connections between some of the 46 priests investigated.
Among the many vile horrors exposed in the Murphy report, one of the most sinister was the litany of unspoken connections that existed between a handful of priests. The stories of their perversion hint at an appalling vista of paedophile clerics who hunted children in groups under the cloak of the Church, fuelling each other's aberrant desires, sharing the names of children they groomed for depraved acts, and passing their victims from one to the other.
The evil union between Fr Francis McCarthy and Fr Bill Carney began when they were seminarians at Clonliffe College. The priests, both born in 1950, were ordained in 1974. They were still students when they plotted their evil course. During their final years at Clonliffe College they stalked the residential homes where orphaned or troubled children were housed in punishment or poverty. They targeted St Joseph's in Dun Laoghaire, the Grange in south Dublin, St Vincent's in Drogheda and Lakelands in Sandymount, and abused children in each.
A nun recalled how they knocked on the door of St Joseph's in 1973, offering to do activities with the children and help with homework. The nuns were delighted -- the young priests were final-year students from the "highly respected" Clonliffe College and could help the children with sport, art and drama.
One man who gave a statement to gardai years later recalled three priests visiting him as a boy at St Joseph's and they all seemed to know each other. The one who was there most was Fr McCarthy. McCarthy used to come in and tell them stories at night but he often told the stories from beside the boy's bed. While telling the story out loud he would feel the boy's penis and his testicles.
The children were allowed to visit the priest's home and to go on holidays. During one holiday with a group of children in 1973, Carney told another priest: "You have to sleep with them because they are insecure."
In 1974, Carney and McCarthy were ordained together. McCarthy was appointed curate to Dunlavin parish, as his superiors deemed him unsuitable for a teaching post; Carney, who was found to be eminently suited, was assigned to Ballyfermot Vocational School. He was "very interested in childcare" and was "best with the unintelligent", his superior reported to the then Archbishop Dermot Ryan.
The priests continued their predatory association. Carney visited McCarthy at weekends in Dunlavin. Within months of arriving, McCarthy had already plucked an unsuspecting victim from the children in his parish. A man recalled how, as a 10-year-old, McCarthy took him to the sitting room of his parish house one day and asked him to sit on his knee. "He sat on his knee and he remembered the priest kissing him and putting his tongue in his mouth. He brought him up to his bedroom and he remembered the priest performing oral sex on him on this occasion," the report said.
After that gruesome initiation, the boy was sexually abused for about 20 minutes on the Friday and Sunday of every week until 1977. He recalled how Carney, a regular visitor at weekends, once took him to his own parish in Ballyfermot for a weekend, along with another child. He had to sleep in Carney's bed and recalled how he tried to penetrate him anally. The priests took him on a 10-day holiday in Kerry, along with a group of other boys, where Carney fondled him.
Carney brazenly flaunted his interest in children. In 1977 he began petitioning his superiors about fostering a child. No one raised an eyebrow. He claimed that he had lunched with Fianna Fail TD Michael Woods, who was then Minister for Health. He claimed that Woods had assured him that "as far as he knew there would be no difficulty from the Eastern Health Board". Woods couldn't recall the meeting.
Children came and went from his parish house in Ayrfield, in north Dublin, where he was posted in 1977. Many of them were from the residential homes that were his regular hunting ground, often with the blithe approval of the religious orders who ran them.
During this time, Carney began to associate with another paedophile priest, Fr Patrick Maguire. Maguire, who was 14 years older than Carney, was not long back in Ireland having left a devastating trail of abuse behind him in Japan. He was sent there after he was ordained in 1960, and remained there until 1974 when a nun complained that he had a problem with young male children.
The day before Maguire's departure, the Columbans wrote to the order in Ireland: "Bishop Hirata was most understanding but said it would be best that Maguire slip out of Japan quietly. There is always a danger that the weekly magazines would latch on to a thing like that and blow it up out of all proportion. The good name of the Church would suffer, not to mention Pat's [Fr Maguire's]."
Back in Ireland, Maguire admitted the incidents to a psychiatrist, who said he was lonely and isolated. Nevertheless, he was posted to Donegal. Bishop McFeely soon wanted rid of him "as quickly and quietly as possible": "Fr Maguire had these boys in his room all night and would seem to have interfered with them sexually. He told the parents of one of the boys that he had an abnormality of the testicles," he wrote to the Columbans.
After a stint touring parishes promoting the missions and an office job, he inexplicably ended up working in the archdiocese in Balcurris parish in Ballymun, north Dublin in 1983. He came "highly recommended" by his order, even though a mother complained that she found him in bed with her two sons. By then, it appears that Maguire had caught up with his fellow paedophile Carney. How this happened is not known. But in 1983 they were well-enough acquainted to collude in the abuse of children.
The association emerged that year after the parents of two altar boys went to the gardai with complaints that the priest had abused them. Two months later, there were unrelated complaints to the archdiocese by two sets of parents that their boys had been abused by Carney in a swimming pool. Archbishop Dermot Ryan initiated a Church investigation. Carney denied the allegations. Maguire could vouch for him, he suggested, as he was one of two adults who usually accompanied him on these swimming excursions.
The mention of Maguire was not followed up. The investigators were unaware of his past and did not take up Carney's suggestion that they talk to him. Nor did Maguire confess to his association with Carney when he confessed his paedophilia in graphic and unremitting terms to therapists years later. But Maguire did describe to one how swimming with children was a ploy he used to sexually abuse them.
"I thought of ways of meeting boys, engaging in conversation, ways of seeing them with their family and seeing how they related with their parents. I planned ways of seeing them with other boys, and eventually ways of being alone with them in places where they felt safe. I planned ways of getting them alone where no one else could observe and where undressing would not be thought out of place, like bathing together, changing at the pool, showering after a swim, and eventually ways of getting them to spend the night, to sleep with me in bed."
Two other paedophile priests, Fr John Boland and Fr Ioannes, also appeared to have had an extraordinary coincidence of independently sexually abusing the same boy within weeks of each other.
It happened in 1973, when Ioannes took an 11-year-old boy to the cinema. Afterwards he brought him back to his room, where he sexually abused him and took photographs of the child. The boy told his parents who wrote a letter of complaint to a local priest.
The boy's mother later told the commission: "It would have been better not to go to the guards because we never heard anything like that before, neither of us, and we thought we were the only ones."
Shortly after they reported Fr Ioannes, another priest, Fr John Boland, called to their home. The boy's parents thought he was sent by the archdiocese in response to their complaint. They left their son and Boland alone in a room together for a short while, when the priest opportunistically sexually abused the boy. The boy came out of the room and told his parents. His parents had to lodge another complaint in Clonliffe College.
Boland, a Capuchin priest, worked in the north city and was apparently unknown to the boy or his family. When the abused boy eventually reported both Ioannes and Boland to gardai as an adult, he did not even know Boland's name. He could only identify him by his brown robe and a distinguishing physical characteristic.
The commission could shed no light on how Fr Boland came to knock on the door of Fr Ioannes' victim. There appeared to be no outward link between Boland and Fr Ioannes. But a witness told the commission Fr Ioannes used to recruit altar boys for the Pro-Cathedral in the parish of North William Street and its surrounding area.
Only after gardai began investigating Fr Boland, who was not prosecuted for the crime because of a lack of evidence, did his order send him for treatment. His order only saw fit to remove him from ministry when a third complaint emerged. In treatment, he confessed to fantasising about children all his adult life; that the 11- and 12-year-old boys he targeted enjoyed his sexual advances; that he lured his child prey in with medals and pictures; befriended their parents; and manipulated situations in which he was alone with the child. Boland was convicted in 2001.
A fourth worrying paedophile link noted in the Murphy report involved Fr Horatio. He was a marriage counsellor, taught adults and had an informal role counselling homosexuals. He had been accused in 1980 of abusing a 15-year-old boy in a gay nightclub. The boy's parents complained to the diocese but Fr Horatio claimed he thought the boy was over 18 and that he had touched him first. Bishop O'Mahony saw no reason to move him from his teaching post and he continued from there to become a parish priest.
In 1989, Fr Horatio confided in Bishop Donal Murray that he was in an emotional relationship with a girl and wanted to be laicised. He apparently didn't disclose the girl's age, according to Bishop Murray, nor did he say it was sexual. The bishop told him to think about it and meanwhile moved him to another parish.
In 2005, that woman wrote to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin about repeated and wanton acts of sexual abuse perpetrated on her as a young girl by Fr Horatio. She was aged 16 when the relationship started and it continued for three years, in various locations, including a holiday home, the key for which was given to Fr Sean Fortune, the notorious Wexford child molester. Fr Horatio later said the only link between himself and Fr Sean Fortune was that they both lived in the same area at the time.
Only when Archbishop Martin asked the priest to step down and began an investigation in 2005 did Fr Horatio confess that he had also abused a boy of 15 in the mid-1980s. He never disclosed it to anyone, even his psychiatrist, thinking that he was in enough trouble as it was.
Fr Horatio is now retired from ministry and living under the supervision of the archdiocese.
Fr Carney was convicted of indecent assault in 1983, despite the efforts of the late auxiliary bishop, James Kavanagh, to influence the outcome of the investigation through his inappropriate contact with the local chief superintendent Maurice O'Connor. He failed because of the efforts of Garda Finbar Garland, then 23, who was in his first year in the job and unfamiliar with child abuse. He heard how Carney had the two altar boys to stay in his house, made them sleep in his bed and fondled them.
Garland took statements, contacted the parents of other boys and filed his report which was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions in August 1983. Unknown to Garland, Maurice O'Connor, told Bishop Kavanagh that Carney was under investigation, although by then, the file had already gone to the DPP. The chief superintendent later told the commission he felt it was his duty to do so.
The bishop lived up the road from his office in Whitehall and called in to him once or twice a month for what he called an ordinary conversation. They were not particularly friendly, he said, nor did they discuss anything in particular, which the commission found strange. After one such meeting, Bishop Kavanagh made a note that Supt O'Connor told him it would be unlikely Carney would face charges. The commission also discovered that the archdiocese had a copy of the garda file on Carney. No one seemed to know how it got there.
Carney pleaded guilty and got the Probation Act. After a period of treatment, he continued his rampage of abuse, drinking heavily and provoking a litany of complaints over his foul-mouthed and belligerent personality. Parents of abused children complained that he was still at large, free and unbridled and still swimming with children. He continued to spend weekends with his accomplice, Francis McCarthy, and was astonishingly given a parish in Clogher Road, where former residents of children's homes stayed with him. Long overdue, a Church tribunal found him guilty of child sexual abuse in 1991, despite his trenchant denials. He refused to leave the diocesan house until 1994, when he secured £30,000 from the archdiocese. Afterwards, he drove a taxi, eventually moved to Scotland for a time and, according to the commission, his current whereabouts are unknown.
Carney's friend, Frank McCarthy, triggered his own unmasking in 1993, when he contacted the boy he abused in his Dunlavin parish and shared with Carney all those years before. The man eventually reported McCarthy to gardai. McCarthy confessed to this and other abuse. Twenty-four hours later he told the archdiocese and took a leave of absence. He pleaded guilty to the offences in 1997. His victim asked that he not be sent to jail. He was laicised in 2005. In 1997, Maguire admitted to abusing young boys in several countries as well as at least one young girl, and received several convictions. He was suspended in 2000 and lives under the supervision of his order.