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Archbishop gives evidence for prosecution in sex case

THE trial of an elderly priest accused of sexually abusing two brothers in a school has collapsed.

The 70-year-old was facing 10 counts of sexually abusing the boys between September 1970 and June 1971, but he was found not guilty by direction of the trial judge at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.

During the trial, Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary was called as a witness for the prosecution. Dr Neary gave evidence that he was made aware in August or September 1995 of an allegation that an unnamed priest had sexually abused a student at a Galway school between 1969 and 1974.

He invited the alleged victim to the Bishop's Palace in Tuam, Co Galway, in September 1995 to discuss it. While there, the complainant "firmly declined" to name the alleged perpetrator.

Dr Neary passed the case on to a colleague. This priest tried unsuccessfully to get the alleged victim to change his mind about naming the priest. In 1996, the complainant's brother, who did not make his allegations until 2006, told the archdiocese the name of the alleged perpetrator.

Gardai were notified, but as no complaint was made by the victim, the matter was not pursued.

Dr Neary confirmed he was interviewed by Det Gda Edward McLaughlin in 2006 about the allegations after the complainant had gone to gardai that year. The man's brother told officers he was abused by the same priest.

After hearing legal submissions from defence counsel Bernard Condon, Judge Rory McCabe ruled he was discharging the jury. The judge said he shared concerns raised by the defence about aspects of the garda investigation.

The judge said his decision did not mean that either complainant was not telling the truth; however, he said he must rely on the law in the matter.

Irish Independent