Priest jailed for abusing six-year-old altar boy


Fr. Thomas Naughton arrives at Wicklow Circuit Court last week.

A WICKLOW priest has been jailed for two years after he was convicted of sexually abusing a former altar boy in Valleymount.

Thomas Naughton (78), who was ordained a Kiltegan Priest before being incardinated as a priest in the Dublin Diocese, pleaded guilty to five sample counts of indecently assaulting a young boy in Valleymount Church, Blessington contrary to common law. The abuse took place on dates unknown between September 1, 1982 and March 31, 1984 while Naughton was serving as a curate in Valleymount.

For the state Paul Murray, BL, led Detective Garda Fergal O'Connor through the evidence. Garda O'Connor said Naughton was a curate in Valleymount in the early 1980s. In January 2007 the victim, a former altar boy, made a complaint to the gardai of being abused by Naughton. The court heard that the boy who was just six years old when the abuse started and served with Naughton at 8.30 a.m. Mass. The victim cycled to Mass every morning leaving his bicycle outside the church.

It was about two or three weeks after he started serving Mass that the abuse began and while he was changing into the altar service alb Naughton put his hands downs his pants and fondled him.

The boy was crying because he didn't like what Naughton was doing but he was afraid to tell him to stop. After serving Mass the boy went to school and after school returned to collect his bicycle and Naughton was often waiting for him. He grabbed the boy's hand and put it down his trousers.

In his statement the boy said 'I was afraid of my life of Naughton because he was a big man'.

The court heard that one evening while friends were over in the boy's house they told his parents that Naughton 'was very fond of ' the victim. His parents were in total shock and approached the local parish priest.

The court also heard that the then Sgt. John Brennan also approached the parish priest who at first treated the allegation as a joke but when Sgt. Brennan said he was taking matters further he changed his attitude.

The court heard how Sgt. Brennan had told the then parish priest that Naughton was a 'menace and a great danger to children'.

Sgt. Brennan told the parish priest that Naughton would have to leave the parish within three weeks or he would take the matter further and Naughton was removed from the parish within two weeks.

The court heard how Sgt. Brennan noticed the victim changing after the abuse and 'he seemed to opt out of all the normal activities associated with young boys'.