Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

Concerns over priest surfaced nearly 20 years ago

Concerns were raised almost 20 years ago about the suitability of a priest later at the centre of two separate sexual abuse allegations, it has been learned.

The priest, who can only be named as ‘Fr X' for legal reasons, was ordained despite a complaint from a fellow seminarian in the early 1990s.

Cardinal Sean Brady last week admitted he was sued by a young woman in the South who accused the priest of raping her in 1997. The case was settled in January when she received €50,000 (£45,000).

A day after being quizzed by police, ‘Fr X' was suspended by Dr Brady from his ministry, banned from saying Mass, hearing confessions and having access to minors.

The priest was also tried in a Northern Ireland court for the sexual assault of another teenager, but was acquitted.

The Catholic Church now faces further questions over its handling of complaints against clergy after it emerged the same priest was at the centre of a controversy in the early 1990s.

The complaints were made by a fellow seminarian subjected to a “very serious” incident of a sexual nature.

Despite seminary authorities and senior Church officials being made aware of the matter, the priest was assigned a parish.

The victim's family last night said they remain “absolutely baffled” at how the man involved was ever allowed become a priest.

The young seminarian who made the complaints later suffered a mental breakdown. He has since made a full recovery.

His family said they were appalled to read accounts of the latest abuse allegations against the same man who first targeted their relative.

“My mother-in-law read about incidents involving ‘Fr X'. He has been charged a couple of times — unsuccessfully, I might add — for alleged rape,” one relative said.

He said he had concerns about vetting procedures for potential priests.

“This guy was a sexual predator — the most scary individual you could ever have anything to do with.”

At one point, the young seminarian was told by ‘Fr X' that he would be killed if he brought the incident to the notice of Church authorities.

Said the relative: “You had a very sensitive young man of 18 or 19 years of age — and this other guy was in his late 20s. He definitely caused serious damage to him.”

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