Chaplain inflicted nine-year reign of terror
A 48-YEAR-OLD priest who sexually abused four young girls and a boy in a nine-year reign of terror at a school in Causeway, Co Kerry was sentenced to four years jail at Tralee Circuit Court yesterday.
Fr John Brosnan, of Gurteen Row, Firies, Killarney, admitted 13 counts of indecent assault on four girls and one boy between October 1977 and December 1985.
The court heard that Brosnan was employed as a chaplain at the school when he began to abuse students. He set up an athletics club and also trained local boys and girls badminton teams.
One of the victims, who cannot be named, told the court that she was in fifth class in primary school when the abuse began. The victim said Fr Brosnan became her personal athletics trainer and even made a video tape of one of her races. He had also trained her in badminton.
``I regarded him as a father figure. He knew that because I told him. He would sit me on his lap and put his hands inside my tracksuit and caress my genitals. I thought this was normal behaviour and a sign of affection. He was my role model. Every time he put his hand on my leg he made me feel special. He would caress my genitals for about half an hour,'' the victim said in her original statement to the gardai in April 1996.
``He would ask me about changes in my body and ask me if I had started growing hair. He asked me about periods and what it was like to have one. One time he caressed me when I was wearing a sanitary towel,'' added the victim.
The statements of the other four victims gave collaborating evidence of a nine-year reign of abuse during which the priest would fondle his victims in front of other children.
The court heard that the priest would summon the victims from their classrooms and indecently assault them in his office in the school.
One of the victims said the defendant brought her to a bedroom in his home and asked her to dress up in the shorts and top she wore for athletics. He then took his trousers off and said: ``Girls should know about boys' bodies.''
The victim said that this was the first time she felt something was wrong. On that occasion Fr Brosnan had been interrupted by a knock at his front door from another priest.
All of the victims told the court of the impact this abuse had on them in their adult life.
The first victim to come forward said she had decided to report the abuse after seeing a Late Late Show Special on child abuse.
``He put the fear of god into me. I felt threatened that he would say things to our parents because my parents thought very highly of him. He pulled the wool over everyone's eyes,'' one victim said.
``I was so confused during my teenage years I thought there was something wrong with me. I respected him so much. I loved him. I will be afraid to love someone again. I felt I was brought into this world to be abused. I want him to know how he has ruined my life,'' another weeping victim said.
The defendant remained impassive as Judge Sean O'Leary sentenced him to one year in prison for the accumulated offences against each of the five victims. He ordered that four of these one-year sentences were to run consecutively.