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Retired priest denies kissing and fondling teen girl

A retired priest has denied kissing and attempting to fondle the breasts of a teenage girl who claims he invited her to his home after hearing her confession.

Fr Dan Duane (73) yesterday denied at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that he indecently assaulted the young girl on a date unknown 30 years ago.

The trial of Fr Duane, of the Presbytery, Cecilstown, Mallow, Co Cork, opened yesterday before Judge Sean O Donnabhain and a jury.

The State alleges that the priest indecently assaulted the girl, who was then aged between 15 and 16 years, on a date unknown between mid-1981 and early 1982.

Don McCarthy, for the State, said the girl -- who was a secondary school student -- had her confession heard by the cleric during a youth retreat.

The girl claimed that after she told the priest about a family matter he invited her to call to his home to discuss the issue in greater detail.

The girl said she called to the parochial house and then became upset when outlining her problem.

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The woman, in evidence to the trial, said the cleric offered to comfort her when she became distraught. "He lent over towards me and kissed me on the lips. His right hand was over my left shoulder. He fondled my breasts. I would say it was (for) about a minute," she added.

The complainant said she told the priest to "f*** off" and left the room.

She explained she met her mother but did not tell her what happened for fear she would not be believed.

The woman said that, as a teenager at the time, she was also very concerned about having used bad language towards a priest. "I would have been in trouble about that," she said.

However, defence counsel Jim O'Mahony said the priest has absolutely no recollection of having ever heard her confession -- and was not involved in retreats at the school involved.

Mr O'Mahony also pointed out that the woman said she confided in a friend about what happened -- but the alleged confidant had no recollection of the matter when questioned by gardai.

Mr O'Mahony also said that while the woman insisted she was not making the complaint for any personal gain, his client received a letter on May 10 last year from solicitors acting on her behalf seeking compensation.

In a garda interview shown to the jury, Fr Duane said he did not recall the woman's name. He also claimed that if somebody told him to "f*** off" he would have remembered the incident.

The case continues today.

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