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Ulster priest abused teen as he took part in child protection course

An Ulster priest and former hospital chaplain who recorded a schoolboy he sexually abused on his mobile phone has been jailed for five years.

Michael Molloy (44), who was a chaplain at Cavan General Hospital, pleaded guilty to two counts of defilement of the boy and to a count of possessing child pornography.

Cavan Circuit Criminal Court yesterday heard he sent the boy sexually explicit mobile phone text messages and showed him pornographic DVDs.

Prosecution counsel Monica Lawlor said that Molloy went on a child protection course at the time he was abusing the boy. He also tried to say the boy had emotional control over him and that he had initiated things.

The offences took place at a number of locations, including at a parochial house, on dates in 2006 and 2007. The boy was in his early teens at the time.

The court heard that offences took place before Molloy became full-time chaplain at the hospital and that he was removed from active ministry when he was arrested in September 2007.

Initially he told gardai the boy was “a liar” and “a fantasist” and the Garda sergeant leading the investigation said that it was only when “he was put to the pin of his collar” that he admitted the incidents.

The court heard the boy was unaware he had been recorded performing a sex act until the footage, which was on the priest's mobile phone, was shown to him as part of the Garda investigation.

The abuse came to light when the boy's mother found sexually explicit text messages on his mobile phone from Fr Molloy. The boy then told his mother and father what had been happening, and they went to the Garda.

The priest had shown him DVDs involving young men kissing and performing a sex act.

The boy said the abuse had “taken away my childhood, the beginning of my teenage years and affected my relationship with people around me”. The pending court case had also affected his schoolwork and his sleep and going to Mass brought back memories.

Defence barrister Luan O'Braonan said Molloy had had more than 200 hours of therapy and was remorseful.

Molloy was in the witness box yesterday and apologised to the boy and his family.

Judge John O'Hagan said there was the sense of a “huge breach of trust” in the case. He said the main aggravating factor was the constant denial by Molloy that he had done anything wrong. He jailed him for five years for defilement of a child under 15, three years for defilement of a child under 17 years and three years for the possession of the recording on the mobile phone of the boy.

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