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Paternity tests prove priest did not father child, court told

Two paternity tests have shown that a priest, featured in an RTE 'Prime Time Investigates' programme, is not the father of a Kenyan woman, the High Court has been told.

Fr Kevin Reynolds (65), who claims RTE defamed him by accusing him of raping a teenage girl in 1982 and fathering her child, has been restored to the priesthood since the paternity test results emerged.

But the court yesterday refused to grant Fr Reynolds judgment for defamation against RTE, which has failed to enter a defence to his claims.

Instead, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy ordered RTE to file its defence by September 29.

Solicitor Robert Dore told the court in an affidavit that Fr Reynolds was a Mill Hill Missionary priest who had worked for many years in Africa.

The RTE 'Mission to Prey' programme broadcast in May alleged he had raped a girl identified as Venerenda who at the time was a minor.

Mr Dore said that the programme claimed Fr Reynolds had fathered a child, Sheila, as a result of the rape in 1982 and had persuaded the girl to remain silent about the rape or his involvement in it.

Barrister Frank Callanan said Fr Reynolds had been parish priest of Ahascragh, Co Galway, at the time of the broadcast but had been prevailed on by his bishop and the Mill Hill Fathers to stand down as a priest.

He had taken paternity tests which confirmed that he was not the father of the girl Sheila. Earlier this month the priest had been informed by a journalist that the DNA tests had proved negative. Following the result of the tests he had been restored to ministry but had not returned to his parish.

Mr Callanan said that in July the Mill Hill Missionaries had received a letter from Fr Reynolds's alleged daughter stating, "Fr Kevin is not my biological father."

This letter had been passed on to RTE.

Mr Callanan told the court that RTE had not entered a defence to the claim and suggested RTE may have been delaying its defence until the outcome of the tests.

Yesterday he asked Judge McCarthy to grant judgment against RTE and allow Fr Reynolds's claim to proceed to an assessment of damages.

Judge McCarthy granted Fr Reynolds permission to bring proceedings seeking judgment if the TV station failed to enter a defence by September 29.

David Keane, counsel for RTE, said the delay in filing a defence had arisen out of a request to have the first paternity test re-taken and that it only had the results of the second test in the last few days.

He agreed both tests had proved Fr Reynolds was not the girl's father.

Irish Independent