Monday 9 December 2019

Woman who claims she was sexually abused by priest has case dismissed

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Tim Healy

THE High Court has dismissed an action by a woman who claims she was sexually abused some 67 years ago by a Dublin diocesan priest who died more than 50 years ago.

The woman claimed she was raped on a number of occasions between 1949 and 1954 by the priest who was attached to her local parish. She also claimed she was sexually abused by her father and her brother.

It was not until the 1990s that she made a complaint about her brother's alleged abuse.

In 2014, she brought a negligence claim in relation to the priest, who died in 1964, against the Archdiocese of Dublin alleging it was vicariously liable for the priest's alleged abuse.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the named defendant on behalf of the Archdiocese, sought to have the case struck out on grounds that the delay in bringing it, the time lapse between now and the alleged acts, and the death of the priest in 1964, would make it impossible for there to be a fair trial.

Mr Justice Michael White said it would be unfair to place blame for the delay in bringing the case on the woman given the "horrific history" she had outlined in affidavits.

However, the court was objectively of the view that it would be impossible for the defendant to defend a claim of vicariously liability in relation to matters which occurred more than 60 years ago.  It would be impossible for the defendant to get a fair trial, he said, dismissing the proceedings.

Counsel for the Archbishop said his client was not seeking any costs against the woman. The judge said he would make no order as to costs which means both sides pay their own.

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