Convicted cleric gets suspended sentence
CONVICTED sex offender Fr Ronald Bennett (75), who admitted he indecently assaulted a schoolboy during 'sex education' lessons, avoided jail yesterday.
He was handed a two-and-a- half-year jail sentence, which was suspended with a number of conditions, and his name will be added to the sex offenders' register for 10 years.
Bennett was a former sports master and spiritual adviser at Gormanston College in Co Meath, where the boy was a pupil at the time of the offences in 1973 and 1974.
Trim Circuit Court had previously heard that Bennett, who now lives in a friary in Killiney, Co Dublin, had been jailed in 2007 for two-and-a-half years by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for indecently assaulting four other boys at the college.
State prosecutor Karl Hanahoe said that the offences had taken place on a weekly basis over a two-year period when the boy was aged 14 and 15.
The victim told Judge Donagh McDonagh he made his complaint after reading reports that Bennett had been given a five-year suspended sentence by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for the offences against the other four boys.
"It caused me a lot of anger."
The DPP had subsequently appealed the suspended five-year sentence and the Court of Criminal Appeal ordered Bennett to serve two-and-a-half years of it with the balance suspended.
Judge McDonagh said that the appropriate sentence in the current case was two-and-a-half years and suspended it on a number of conditions, including that Bennett gave an undertaking to remain within the confines of the Franciscan friary for the next five years.