Belfast Telegraph

Priest faces court over child sexual abuse allegations

A priest who is charged with a number of child sex abuse offences will face court next month.

Fr Eugene Boland (65) faces four charges of indecently assaulting a female child.

A preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to put him on trial is to take place at Magherafelt Magistrates Court.

He's alleged to have committed the four offences between June 28, 1990, and June 30, 1992, while he was ministering in a parish in Derry.

Fr Boland, whose address was given as the Parochial House, Killyclogher Road in Omagh, stepped down as parish priest of Killyclogher last year when a child welfare investigation started.

The then Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty, said at the time that Fr Boland “has and continues to co-operate fully with the civil authorities, as has the diocese”, adding: “While this process is ongoing, the priest is entitled to the benefit of a presumption of innocence.”

The defendant was due to have appeared at the Magistrates Court in Londonderry last month on the same charges, but that hearing was adjourned until yesterday following an application by defence solicitor Kieran McGuigan, who said his client “is not in a position to proceed”.

In court yesterday Mr McGuigan applied, in the absence of the defendant, to District Judge Des Perry to fix a date for a preliminary investigation hearing.

The hearing is to determine whether or not the prosecution authorities have sufficient evidence against Fr Boland to enable the prosecution to proceed to a preliminary enquiry level.

Mr McGuigan said there would be three prosecution witnesses at the hearing. The District Judge said that “very often the courts set up preliminary hearings only for the witnesses to turn up and the hearing then collapses”.

Mr McGuigan said the hearing would go ahead and he added that “one of the three witnesses has made a lengthy statement”.

Mr Perry fixed the preliminary hearing date for March 22.

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