Belfast Telegraph

Folk music stalwart Francis McPeake denies 12 charges of sex abuse

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

Well-known folk musician Francis McPeake has been formally arraigned before Belfast Crown Court accused of sexually abusing an underage teenage girl in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

In all, the 71-year-old denies 12 charges involving the schoolgirl when she was aged between 13 and 16, and dating from January 30 2009 to March 31, 2010.

McPeake, who went into hiding after fleeing his Eliza Street Close home in Belfast when word of the charges got out last month, is expected to go on trial in February.

Four charges accuse the musician of committing the abuse in the Republic.

Three of charges refer to sexual touching of a girl under the age of 16, while the fourth accuses him of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity knowing she was underage.

They were allegedly committed between January and August 2009. The remaining eight charges, dated from July 2009 to March the following year, involve similar offending.

However, it's claimed that the offences took place in the "County Court Division of Belfast".

Charges five to 10 relate to sexual touching. The final two counts accuse him of causing or inciting the teenager to engage in sexual activity such as mutual touching.

Last month when details of the case were published on Facebook and in a Sunday newspaper, riot police had to be called to McPeake's home in the Markets area to disperse a crowd of about 60 people.

Initially a temporary ban was imposed on identifying McPeake.

A news blackout was imposed on his new address.

Yesterday Deputy Recorder Corinne Philpott QC added to the order. She said that nothing can be published or said which could lead to the identity of the teenager being known.

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