Friday 15 December 2017

Woman 'invented' story of assault, priest tells court

Georgina O'Halloran

A PRIEST who denies sexually assaulting a teenager more than 30 years ago has said she "invented" the event.

Fr Dan Duane (73) has been charged with indecently assaulting the now middle-aged woman at an address in Cork in the summer of 1980.

Fr Duane pleaded not guilty to the charge, which is alleged to have occurred when the woman -- who cannot be identified for legal reasons -- was aged 14.

The woman told a jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that her future was robbed from her as a result of what the priest did to her as a child.

"At 14 he violated me. . . and it changed the course of my life," she said.

"No matter what way you try to turn it, he did this to me in the front room of his house. He changed my life. . . my potential. . . my future, forever.

"The memories as a child -- they stay with you for life. I was so scared. . . the shame on my family if I came forward. . ."

She told the priest that she had lost her family because of him.

Fr Duane, of the Presbytery, Cecilstown, Mallow, Co Cork, said he recalled the teenager visiting his house with other schoolgirls to talk in groups.

"I got to know them and we would be chatting," said the priest.

He said they were all around the same age and were doing their Intermediate Certificate at the time.

He said the alleged victim had also called to see him on her own about four or five times, to talk about problems, but that she was at least aged 17.

"She did not call on her own until well after 1980. She did not call on her own in 1980," he said.

Barrister for the prosecution Don McCarthy put it to the priest that either the alleged victim had invented in great detail the significant event in her life or that her account was correct and that she had lived with it since 1980.

Fr Duane replied that she had "invented it" as far as he was concerned.

He said the assault did not happen. "I would trust my memory very well," he said.

The trial before Judge Sean O Donnabhain continues today.

Irish Independent

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