Belfast Telegraph

Ex-curate from St Matthew's Catholic Church denies child sex charges

By Ashleigh McDonald

A former curate of St Matthew's Catholic Church in Belfast has told a jury he "totally denied" allegations that he sexually abused a young female parishioner in the 1980s.

Peter Donnelly (71), from Drumaroad Hill in Castlewellan, is accused of sexually assaulting the alleged victim in the parochial house of the church over a period spanning from July 1982 to August 1987. She claims that she was indecently assaulted a number of times when she was aged between 10 and into her early teens.

Donnelly is charged with six counts of indecently assaulting the girl, and a further charge of gross indecency with a child. He denies all seven charges.

Giving evidence at his trial, Donnelly told the jury he served at St Matthew's in east Belfast from 1983 until 1988. The allegation of abuse was made in September 2010 and at that time Donnelly was a parish priest in south Down.

He told Belfast Crown Court that under advice from a bishop, he has stepped down from the ministry while the probe takes place.

The trial continues.

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