Wednesday 24 January 2018

'I never declined to be interviewed' - former Archbishop Burke

Former archbishop Richard Burke
Former archbishop Richard Burke

Tim Healy

A former Catholic Archbishop has said that he first learned about RTÉ's 'Mission To Prey' documentary 12 days before it was to be screened after he sent an email to his order with queries about it.

Tipperary native Richard Burke told the High Court yesterday that he was unaware RTÉ had been in contact with the Kiltegan Fathers on several occasions since March 2011.

He said he did not know in advance he would personally be featured on Prime Time Investigates programme and it was incorrect for RTÉ to say on the programme he had declined to be interviewed.

Dolores Atwood had made a formal complaint of child sexual abuse against former Archbishop of Benin, Nigeria, Richard Burke, to his order, the Kiltegan Fathers, in late 2008, the High Court heard.

She had also written to the Vatican in March 2008 and in 2005 she phoned Mr Burke's order anonymously alleging he was having relations with women.

Mr Burke denies he had sex with Ms Atwood when she was aged 14 and insists they first had sex in autumn 1989 when she was 20 and he was 40.

He alleges he was defamed in an RTÉ 'Prime Time Investigates' programme of May 23, 2011, which, he claims, wrongly depicted him as a paedophile.

RTÉ denies the programme meant Mr Burke was a paedophile and contends it meant Mr Burke had sexually molested Ms Atwood when she was a 13-year-old girl and slept with her when she was aged 14.

In continuing cross-examination, Paul O'Higgins SC presented Mr Burke with a handwritten document which stated it was a "binding agreement" between Dolores Wasalathu Atwood and Richard Anthony Burke.

Mr Burke said he did not remember the document but agreed it was his handwriting.

The document stated the terms of the agreement included he was to give to Ms Atwood "what she considers to belong to her €100,000" and she, for the remainder of her life on Earth, would never again ask or demand any more money from him.

Other terms in the document were read to the jury.

Mr O'Higgins said Ms Atwood will tell the court she was given that document after Mr Burke visited Rome in February 2009, and after his superiors asked him "to make restitution" to her.

Mr Burke said he did not accept that was the context of the document.

Earlier, Mr Burke said he had in November 2007 recorded calls made to him from Canada, where Ms Atwood moved after marrying a Canadian, Chris Atwood, in 1995.

The trial heard he recorded those because he was traumatised after Ms Atwood had, during a call on November 7, 2007, accused him for the first time of being a "paedophile", he said.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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