Wednesday 21 March 2018

Priest weeps as jury clears him of sex assault against girl (14)

Fr Dan
Retired cleric Fr Dan Duane outside Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Ralph Riegel

A PRIEST wept yesterday as he was acquitted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl who had claimed he whispered to her that God would approve.

Fr Dan Duane (73) had denied a charge of indecently assaulting a woman, who is now middle-aged, at an address in Cork in the summer of 1980 when she was a teenager.

Fr Duane, of the Presbytery, Cecilstown, Mallow, Co Cork, insisted that the woman's allegations were "invented".

The retired Diocese of Cloyne cleric rested his head against a wooden ledge in the courtroom and silently sobbed yesterday when the Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury returned the not guilty verdict.

The woman who made the accusations became extremely distressed and collapsed as she attempted to leave the court.

She later had to be helped out of the building by her friends.

The jury took one hour and 25 minutes to reach a verdict, following a three-day trial.

They had interrupted their deliberations to pose a number of questions, including when the woman first lodged a complaint with gardai -- June 2009 -- and when she initiated civil proceedings for compensation -- October 2009.

Fr Duane told the trial that the alleged incident did not happen: "I would trust my memory very well."

The priest, who served in various parishes in the east Cork diocese over his career, also insisted he had first met the young woman when she was 17 and not 14 as claimed.

The woman said she had met Fr Duane at a school retreat she had attended after joining the Legion of Mary.

She said he had offered to meet youngsters at his home if they had problems or issues they wanted to discuss.

She claimed she went alone to his house during the summer of 1980 and was indecently assaulted on a sofa.

"He urged me into a lying position. I felt his hands on my legs and on my chest. I remember feeling mortified and shocked," she said.


The witness said she had her period and was wearing a pad.

"I felt his hands. He pushed the pad out of the way and he stuck his fingers. . . He kept whispering that it was okay, that it was okay with God. That God would approve," she wept.

During emotional evidence, the complainant at one point turned to directly face the defendant and said: "Look what you have done to my life -- he violated me."

Last May, Fr Duane was found not guilty of indecently assaulting another young woman who had claimed he had attempted to fondle her breasts.

Fr Duane had vehemently denied the woman's claims, which related to an unknown date in 1981-82.

Irish Independent

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