Wednesday 22 November 2017

Nun put hands down my pants in classroom, abuse trial told

Paddy Clancy

A 45-year-old mother of two told a court of her horror when she was trapped inside a school library with a nun accused of indecent assault. She alleged that the nun fondled her.

Sr Mary Theresa Grogan, who was known as Sr Peter when she taught at a primary school in the Midlands in the 1970s and 1980s, denies 63 charges of indecent assault against seven pupils between 1973 and 1977.

The witness told Sligo Circuit Court that she was bending over a press in the library when she looked around. Sr Peter was there and she pressed her against the wall and fondled her breasts.

The woman fought back tears as she said: "I thought, 'How am I going to get out of this?' She grabbed me and started fondling my breasts. I don't know how I got out."

The woman told the court that as a child she was a slow reader and that Sr Peter called her up in class to read out loud. The nun then put her hand down the child's pants, rubbing her bottom and moving round to the front, while the other children had their heads down on the desks after being instructed in Irish to go to sleep.

The woman told the court that the alleged abuse she received in third class had "left its mark on me".

During a reference to separate civil proceedings, the woman said: "This is not about money. No money can pay for what Sr Peter did to me."

Earlier, another 45-year-old mother of two, who has accused the nun of indecent assaults, told the court of separate incidents of sexual abuse by men.

She said that 18 years after the alleged assaults by the nun in 1976 and 1977 she was treated in a hospital psychiatric unit. She also attended an abuse and rape-crisis centre.

She agreed with Geraldine Biggs, defending Sr Grogan, that she had seen a psychotherapist 109 times.

She told the psychotherapist of an occasion, when she was aged 10, when a male friend of her parents had brought her into a room at a party and asked her to touch his genitals. On another occasion, when she was eight, a male neighbour requested her to touch him.


Ms Biggs noted that the woman, who accuses the nun (63) of touching her beneath her underwear on her bottom, did not accuse the sister of child sexual abuse

Counsel reminded the woman that in her main evidence she said the nun, known as Sr Peter in the class, was very nice and very sweet.

Ms Biggs said court documents showed the woman said that she had feared beatings from Sr Peter.

The woman replied that she was on heavy medication at the time and didn't remember using the word "beat".

The trial, which was transferred to Sligo on a defence request from the Midlands town where the offences are alleged to have happened and is in its second week, continues.

Irish Independent

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