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Older priest tried to rape trainee on night before ordination as a priest, court hears

Published 17/11/2011

Sickening: Paedophile priest James Donaghy is already serving a ten-year jail sentence in Magilligan for sex crimes against three victims.
Sickening: Paedophile priest James Donaghy is already serving a ten-year jail sentence in Magilligan for sex crimes against three victims.

A priest has told a court how a fellow cleric attempted to have sex with him on the night before the accused cleric’s ordination into the Catholic Church.

Fr Patrick McCafferty — who once called on former Archbishop of Dublin, Desmond Connell to resign over clerical sex abuse — made the claim as he gave evidence against former Catholic priest, James Martin Donaghy.

The 53-year-old former priest of Lady Wallace Drive, Lisburn, denies a total of 26 charges involving the alleged sex abuse and indecent assault of three males — Fr McCafferty, another trainee priest and a former altar boy — between June 1983 and December 2000.

Fr McCafferty said that after years of abuse, which started when he was a trainee in Wexford, he decided to confront Donaghy, who agreed to meet him in the presbytery of St Comgall's Church, where he was parish priest.

In the parochial house Donaghy allegedly confessed that he “always knew this day would come”. After being told by Fr McCafferty how he had also been abused as a youngster, Donaghy said: “What I did to you didn't help you either.”

Donaghy said he has since undergone psychosexual therapy.

Fr McCafferty said he became increasingly ill, eventually receiving treatment in America between April and September 2003.

That same year he said he also wrote and complained to the then Bishop of Down and Connor, Bishop Patrick Walsh, about the abuse, informing him that he should already be aware of it.

However, it was not until December 2009, following a two-hour telephone call with police who contacted him, that he made his statement.

Earlier Fr McCafferty told Belfast Crown Court that Donaghy took him to his uncle's one-bedroomed flat the night before Donaghy was to be ordained in his home parish of Lisburn, where the accused attempted to have sex with him.

Fr McCafferty, who was to play the organ at the service, said: “It was completely freaking me out. I was so embarrassed, totally embarrassed. It was blowing me away. It was an horrendous night.”

Fr McCafferty further claimed the following morning Donaghy said he had confessed to what he'd done, but was told by his alleged abuser “that it was only a little bit of affection and not to worry about it”.

The next incident occurred when they went on retreat together to Donegal at Donaghy's insistence. By this time Donaghy was “very domineering... he was the boss”.

Describing it as another night of horror, only worse than before, Fr McCafferty said he felt as if he was being suffocated, crushed, and in his mind he decided to “block it out”.

The priest, who claimed that he was abused on 10 occasions over the next three years, said that he would sometimes “have blackouts”. On other occasions it was “almost like having an out-of-body experience”, as if he was standing by the bedside watching himself being abused and “gasping for air”.

Belfast Telegraph

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