Saturday 24 March 2018

Appeal result due next year


A RETIRED priest who was found guilty of the serial sexual abuse of minors and teenagers by a secret Church court in March 2013 immediately appealed the decision - the result of that appeal is now expected early next year.

After the canonical decision, delivered in 2013, Dan Duane (76) immediately appealed the decision to the Apostolic Signature and the Pope, as he believed that his defence was not properly taken into account.

At Cork Circuit Criminal Court in 2011, Dan Duane 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.

Mr Duane, of the Presbytery, Cecilstown, Mallow insisted that the woman's allegations were "invented." He was found not guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court three years ago. Judge Sean O'Donnabhain directed that he be found not guilty of indecently assaulting the teenager and he made the direction on the grounds of the 30-year delay in making the complaint.

Mr Duane told Cork Circuit Criminal court that the alleged incident did not happen. "I would trust my memory very well," he said.

The woman gave evidence that Mr Duane had urged her into a lying position when she went alone to his house in the Summer of 1980. "I felt his hands on my legs and on my chest. I remember feeling mortified and shocked," she said.

She told the court that she had her period at the time and was wearing a sanitary towel. "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 in court when giving her evidence.

In May 2010, he was also found not guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court of indecently assaulting a 14 year-old girl, 31 years previously, who claimed that he had tried to fondle her breasts. He vehemently denied the woman's claims, which related to an unknown date in 1981-82.

However, in March 2013, there were scenes of joy and relief at the Nano Nagle centre in Killavullen, as victims were brought in to hear the judgment from three canon law judges, which consisted of two clerical canon lawyers and a notary, who assessed evidence given by victims.

He was found unanimously guilty of sexual abuse and defrocked by the Diocese of Cloyne following the secret ecclesiastical tribunal which was set up by Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford.

In its judgment, the canonical court "reached the decision with moral certainty" that the priest had sexually abused teenagers and minors when working as a priest in the diocese. The tribunal heard from a number of his victims and it was ruled that he should be forced to stand down as a priest. All involved had to sign an oath of secrecy.

The diocese has issued apologies and settled civil cases with at least five victims.

One of his victims who attended the canonical tribunal last year said she felt "a massive sense of relief." Another victim said she believed the women had suffered further pain at the criminal justice system's failure to convict him, but that the canonical decision would not be taken lightly by him.

She said at the time that their battle for justice "had been relentless" and "only succeeded because we, as a group, refused to give up."

As part of his appeal, he was invited to Rome by the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith to outline his objections to the dioceses' decision. However, he is not obliged to attend.

A decision on his appeal will be reached early next year, it is understood.