Friday 17 January 2020

Accused nun tells court abuse claims are 'repulsive, horrendous'

Paddy Clancy

A NUN has described as "repulsive" complaints that she committed a series of indecent assaults against girls aged seven and eight.

Sister Mary Theresa Grogan told Garda Olive Dreelan, who led the inquiry into the alleged offences, that she wouldn't do anything to a child, a court heard.

Gda Dreelan gave evidence of a statement from the 63-year-old nun, who is accused of a series of the offences between 1973 and 1977.

The garda, based in the same midlands town as the national school where the offences are alleged to have been committed, said she went to Laytown, Co Meath, in 2007 to interview the nun about complaints made by seven women the previous year.

Gda Dreelan said she read to the nun, who was present with her solicitor, complaints made by the women about assaults in third class.

Sr Grogan, who gave the interview on a voluntary basis, said she had joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1966 and studied at Carysfort College between 1968 and 1970.

She went to the school in the midlands – not named under a legal obligation to protect the identities of the women who said they were victims – in 1971 and, apart from a one-year break, taught at the school until 1985.

She was principal between 1982 and 1985.

She was given the name Sr Peter by the mother superior but switched to Sr Mary Theresa Grogan when she joined the missions in Zambia in 1990.

Gda Dreelan told Sligo Circuit Court that the nun, when one girl's statement of complaint was read to her, said: "From the depths of my being I cannot accept that."

The nun agreed that she used to call a number of girls to her desk in third class to check their homework.

Horrendous

In response to several statements of complaint of indecent assault by the women when they were schoolgirls, the nun said: "I cannot accept that."

She added after hearing one woman's complaint: "I find it repulsive. I would deny this. I think it is horrendous."

Responding to a woman who claimed she was assaulted over two years, the nun told the garda it was unlikely the girl would have stayed back in third class "if she had terrible fears".

She said she was happy teaching, wouldn't do anything to a child, and no parent had ever made a complaint.

The women, all now married and in their mid-40s, have told the jury of seven women and five men that the nun placed her hand beneath their underwear and on their bottoms. Some said she also moved her hand to the vaginal area.

The nun denies 63 charges of indecent assaults against seven women.

The prosecution case finished yesterday. The defence is due to open on Tuesday.

The case was transferred to Sligo from the midlands at the request of the defence.

Irish Independent

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