Monday 20 August 2018

Bishop does U-turn on comments about news report regarding convicted rapist

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan. Photo: John Power
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan. Photo: John Power
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore has issued a statement saying a news report relating to a convicted rapist was "wholly factually correct" - after previously calling for it to be retracted.

Bartholomew Prendergast (65) was last week convicted of the sexual assault and rape of Stephanie Hickey (46), her sister Deirdre Fahy (52) and another woman over the course of 12 years.

The Sunday World ran an article highlighting how Clonmel priest, Canon Brendan Crowley, had previously sent Prendergast to see a psychiatrist in 1984.

The report said that Fr Crowley denied any knowledge of Prendergast's crimes and had referred him to a psychiatrist over a separate matter.

Bartholomew Prendergast. Photo: Collins Courts
Bartholomew Prendergast. Photo: Collins Courts

“I knew nothing at all about him abusing children, nothing at all,” Fr Crowley said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan slammed the report as "wholly incorrect and seriously impugns Canon Crowley's good name and reputation".

However, he has now done a u-turn and described the article as "wholly correct".

"The Diocese of Waterford & Lismore was concerned that the report could potentially be interpreted to suggest that Canon Crowley knew of the latter’s abusive behaviour," the statement said.

Sisters Deirdre Fahy and Stephanie Hickey leave the Central Criminal Court after Bartholomew Prendergast was sentenced for abusing both women. Photos: Collins Courts
Sisters Deirdre Fahy and Stephanie Hickey leave the Central Criminal Court after Bartholomew Prendergast was sentenced for abusing both women. Photos: Collins Courts

"While the news report by Patrick O’Connell is wholly factually correct any possible interpretation that Father Crowley had any knowledge of this behaviour is not correct as is clear from his reported statements to that effect.

"The diocese wishes to categorically state that Canon Crowley was never informed, nor had any knowledge, of the abuse which the victims endured as children.

"The Diocese of Waterford & Lismore wishes to avail of this opportunity to convey sincere sympathy to Stephanie Hickey and Stephanie’s sister Deirdre, as well as to the other unnamed victim, all of whom suffered horrendous abuse perpetrated by Mr Prendergast."

Prendergast will be sentenced in November for the sexual abuse and rape of the sisters and a third woman over the course of 12 years.

Ms Hickey, who along with Ms Fahy waived her right to anonymity so that Prendergast could be named, said that she "lost everything" as a result of the abuse.

"I lost those beautiful memories young girls have when they hit 12 or 13 becoming a teenager and your first crush which I know all young girls love.

"He started being really nice, but I suppose as a child I didn't see the danger because he was my brother-in-law and he was an adult and I felt this was ok, this was normal," Ms Hickey told Eamon Keane on WLRFM.

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