Tuesday 24 April 2018

Former priest with history of 'abusing young boys' given four year sentence for indecent assault of student

Former priest Henry Moloney, aged 77, with an address at Kimmage Manor in Dublin pictured at Clonmel Court. Credit: Dylan Vaughan
Former priest Henry Moloney, aged 77, with an address at Kimmage Manor in Dublin pictured at Clonmel Court. Credit: Dylan Vaughan

Conor Kane

A former priest and music teacher who told the Pope in a letter last year he had a history of “abusing young boys” has been given a four-year prison term for indecently assaulting a secondary school student in the 1970s.

Henry Moloney (77) with an address at Kimmage Manor in Dublin was led away from Clonmel Circuit Court yesterday by prison staff after being handed down the sentence for abuse which had a “devastating” impact on his victim.

He was given consecutive sentences of 18 months, 18 months and 12 months, with the last of those four years suspended, as well as four concurrent sentences.

The only time Henry Moloney spoke during the sentencing hearing was when asked at the very end if he acknowledged he will be bound to the peace for a year upon his release in prison, and he replied: “I do indeed.”

Moloney had denied all charges against him in a trial earlier this month but was found guilty of seven counts of indecent assault, an eighth charge having been withdrawn.

The court heard yesterday he had previous convictions for indecent assault and was given a 15-month prison sentence in 2000 after pleading guilty at Dublin Circuit Court to three counts dating back to between 1970 and 1972; and was given an 18-month suspended sentence in 2009 after admitting six counts which arose from a period between 1968 and 1974.

The five-day trial in Clonmel heard that the abuse started within a week or two of the beginning of a school year in the 1980s at Rockwell College in Co Tipperary after Fr Henry Moloney, as he was then, asked the victim to join the choir.

Moloney was the choirmaster and played the organ in the school’s chapel and the first incident was in the organ gallery, the victim told the court.

Henry Moloney put his hand under the victim’s shirt and down his trousers, to his buttocks, the court heard.

The victim said he thought at the time he couldn’t tell anyone “because no-one will believe me over a priest”.

Eventually, Fr Moloney asked him to go to his room in the college and abused him there, starting with “feeling me or groping me” and getting worse “to the point where you would call it rape, buggery,” the victim said during the trial.

The trial also heard of a letter written last year by Moloney to Pope Francis, asking to be laicised, in which Moloney said: “I have greatly sinned over 10 years, from 1969 to 1979 in my abusing young boys,” and that “from 1980 to 1991 there were sporadic betrayals”. He was granted laicisation in October of 2014.

In a victim impact statement read in court yesterday on behalf of the victim of Moloney’s abuse at Rockwell College in the 1980s, the victim said the abuse “blighted my life” and that his childhood was robbed by Henry Moloney.

“Sometimes because of the nightmares and cold sweats, anxiousness and panic, I feel that death would be a release,” he said.

The victim said he wondered if the Spiritan Order knew that Henry Moloney “was an abuser when they placed him in Rockwell,” and this upset him greatly.

He accepted there are “a lot of good people” in the Order and good people at Rockwell College and said “I do not wish for any of this to reflect upon them”.

A “simple apology” from Henry Moloney at any stage during the intervening years would have been a comfort, he said, but instead he was subjected to a very difficult trial which has left him with nightmares and cold sweats, not dissimilar to how he felt as a student when the abuse was going on.

“I will never forget standing at his bedroom door after being summoned. I would be panicking inside, knowing what was going to happen. My hand shaking while trying to knock, then bid to enter and it seemed to take an eternity for my shaking hand to grip the door handle, knowing I couldn’t run because I had nowhere to go and nobody to turn to. I was just a lonely confused child with a mother who put priests on a pedestal and here was Moloney coming across as a wonderful, charming clergyman who had my welfare foremost in his mind when clearly he had no interest in my welfare at all.”

Judge Teehan said the effects of the abuse on the victim were “devastating” and described Moloney’s actions as “an enormously damaging breach of trust”.

There were few mitigating factors, the judge said, but among them were Henry Moloney’s age, his poor health as detailed in medical reports and the fact that he himself was abused as a child, also outlined in a report.

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