English priest who molested boy (12) on holiday to Ireland jailed for nine months
An English priest who molested a 12-year-old boy after bringing the child and his brother on holiday to Ireland over 40 years ago has been jailed for nine months.
Michael Dunn (67), who pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault, intends to appeal the sentence, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.
Dunn knew the boy and his family as the child served as an altar server. The victim was bullied at school and Dunn became his “trusted confidant”, the court heard.
The victim told the court that Dunn groomed him to comply and he said he felt helpless to escape. “I was imprisoned in what was supposed to be a holiday and 100 miles from home,” he said.
Garda Karen Doherty told John Fitzgerald BL, prosecuting, that the victim told gardaí that while in Dublin, Dunn got him to share his bed every night. The abuse started with Dunn touching him while he pretended to be asleep and progressed to the man forcing him to perform a sex act on him him and open mouth kissing.
The now 53-year-old victim said in his garda statement that he felt he loved Dunn as he was a father figure and friend. He was the only person who showed him physical affection and he later “felt bad for letting it happen”.
Dunn, with an address in Lawrence Street, York, England, pleaded guilty to three charges of sexual assault in August 1975 when he was 26 years old. He was jailed for 18 months in England in March 2005 after he was convicted of sexual assaulting another young boy in the 1970s.
Judge Melanie Greally said Dunn's offending had deeply affected his victim in all aspects of his life. “The actions of the accused had a profoundly negative effect on a young male in the vital, formative years of his life,” she said.
She noted Dunn entered the priesthood at a very young age, when he was “ill-prepared for the challenges of priesthood, both sexually and socially”. She took into account mitigating factors including his plea of guilty and the fact he had lived an “irreproachable” life ever since.
Defence counsel Bernard Condon SC indicated Dunn would be appealing the sentence and asked that he be granted bail pending the outcome. Judge Greally denied the bail application.
The man read his victim impact statement in court which was later described by counsel, “as a powerful, deeply moving, testimony”.
He said he was at an early stage of his sexual and emotional development a the time. “I cannot say the abuse made me gay but it normalised in my psyche an attraction to men,” he continued.
He said as a married man and father, he led a dual existence describing a “secret life of alcohol and infidelity with other men”.
The man said his long term suppression of the truth caused him “internal turmoil” and he carried the memories for 40 years. He said for much of that time, he kept the abuse a secret “to protect those that I love from suffering”.
He said his “greatest sadness” was the pain this process had caused his wife and children, who he said suffered seeing him unable to cope with life. He described life with him as “intolerable”, two of his older children left home and his marriage had broken down.
He said he had completed 60 hours of therapy and had finally started a process of coming to terms with what happened to him as a child. “I hope to live a normal, honest and fulfilled life from now,” he concluded in his statement.
Mr Condon said his client apologised and regretted his behaviour. He said he recognised the impact the abuse had on the man and “is full of remorse, horror and shame”,
He asked Judge Greally to take into account the fact that his client had not committed any further crimes in the last 40 years.
Dunn entered the priesthood at 16, when Mr Condon said he was immature and had not identified his own sexuality. He said this did not justify his client's behaviour towards the victim.
Counsel said Dunn continued to live a life of prayer and reflection but did not “practice publicly”. He accepted he had abused a position of trust.
Belfast Telegraph Digital