Thursday 19 April 2018

Retired priest is found not guilty of indecent assault

Ralph Riegel

A RETIRED priest was yesterday found not guilty of indecent assault.

Judge Sean O Donnabhain directed a Circuit Criminal Court jury in Cork to acquit Fr Dan Duane (73) of indecently assaulting a teenage girl at a parochial house 30 years ago.

The judge's direction to the jury came on the second day of the trial.

Judge O Donnabhain directed the jury to find Fr Duane not guilty after he ruled, following lengthy legal argument, that he was concerned about the delay involved in making the complaint involved.

"In my view, the delay is inexplicable," he said.

The judge said the complainant, given her background, should have been aware that such complaints were taken seriously. He said he had "a worry" over the matter and, if the jury was allowed to reach a verdict, "I, personally, having heard the evidence, would have the profoundest worries about the efficacy of that finding".

The complainant had accused Fr Duane, of the Presbytery, Cecilstown, Mallow, Co Cork, of kissing her and fondling her breast in a parochial house at a date unknown between September 1, 1980, and April 1, 1982.

Fr Duane had denied the accusation and said he had no recollection of the woman.

She claimed she had been invited by Fr Duane to his home to discuss a family issue after he had heard her confession during a youth retreat.

The complainant, who was a teenager at the time, insisted there was no one else in the house -- but Fr Duane's legal team pointed out that his house was also occupied by a live-in housekeeper and a curate.

Fr Duane was supported in court by a number of elderly clerics and did not comment as he left the court yesterday.

Irish Independent

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