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Clergyman was reported to PSNI for abusing child a year after his death


By Claire O'Boyle

The Diocese of Down and Connor has named a priest it reported to police in 2011 following an allegation of child sex abuse.

Fr Kevin O'Leary, who was accused of assaulting a child in the 1990s, was dead by the time the diocese received the complaint, a spokesman said.

The PSNI confirmed a report of sexual abuse was passed to it by the diocese in September 2011, but said an investigation could not be pursued because the accused was deceased.

The diocese also confirmed it had reached settlements on compensation with four victims of former priest Danny Curran, who has been convicted of a number of sexual assaults against children.

One claim is still pending, a spokesman said. Fr O'Leary died in April 2010 aged 85.

Before that he had spent 25 years with the Rosminian Order after his 1949 ordination.

The diocese said: "In 1974, after several years work with the Rosminian Order, Fr O'Leary requested a pastoral placement in the Diocese of Down and Connor, preferring to engage in pastoral work after several years of teaching in Rosminian schools and colleges.

"At Fr O'Leary's request, and with the agreement of his order and the then bishop after a probationary period, he was incardinated as a diocesan priest of the Diocese of Down and Connor in April 1978."

During his time in the diocese, Fr O'Leary was placed first as 'assistant' in Ballymena from August to October 1974.

He then moved to St Mary's on the Hill, Glengormley, from October 1974 to September 1983 as curate.

In October 1983 he moved to Newcastle, again as curate, where he stayed until September 1989.

Finally, Fr O'Leary moved to St Anthony's in Belfast in October 1989 where he was parish priest until his retirement in August 1996.

Following his retirement, Fr O'Leary lived in Castlewellan, Co Down.

The diocese added: "The diocese was made aware in September 2011, through a third party, of a complaint against Fr O'Leary.

The complaint was promptly reported by the diocese to the police and the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, and support and assistance offered to the complainant and the complainant's family.

"The safeguarding matter was reported on September 19, 2011 by the Down and Connor Safeguarding Office to the PSNI Central Referral Unit (Child Abuse Investigation Unit)."

It added that the diocese was not aware of any other complaint against Fr O'Leary, adding that no claim for compensation had been made in relation to the priest.

In a statement, the Rosminian Order said: "We are aware of the statement of Diocese of Down and Connor in relation to Fr O'Leary and have nothing to add, save to confirm that we are not aware of any complaints against Fr O'Leary, other than one notified in September 2011."

A number of independent safeguarding audits have taken place within the Diocese of Down and Connor since 2011, including an independent review of all cases of alleged clerical abuse in Down and Connor, living and deceased from 1961-2011, as well as two reviews in 2013 of child safeguarding structures and procedures in the diocese.

The Diocese of Down and Connor has implemented the various recommendations outlined within these reviews.

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