herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Another bishop failed to tell gardai about priest abuse claims

DELAY: Clergyman waited two years before going to officers

THE Bishop of Waterford and Lismore has apologised for how he dealt with child abuse allegations in the mid-1990s.

Dr William Lee has said his handling of the claims against one of his priests was "seriously inadequate".

It has emerged he delayed two years before telling gardai about the complaints, and when the priest was moved to a new ministry, he did not inform the priest's new colleagues.

Dr Lee apologised for delaying two years before telling gardai about the complaints.

And he added that he particularly regretted that he had not sought the immediate withdrawal of the priest from all ministry.

The Bishop said three individuals approached him in December 1993 and told him they had been sexually abused by the priest.

Bishop Lee said the complainants were adults when they made the allegations and that without administering oaths he met them over the following year to hear their stories.

He sought professional advice from a psychiatrist and satisfied himself that they were being adequately supported.

Meanwhile, guided by a psychiatrist's recommendation that the priest could safely work with children, Dr Lee moved him to a new ministry.

He says he did not tell the priest's new colleagues about his background.

However, in October 1995, after benefiting from the advice on child protection in the hierarchy's soon-to-be-published guidelines on sexual abuse, the bishop concluded that his decisions had been 'seriously inadequate'.

He reported the priest to the gardai that December with the complainants' knowledge.

Six weeks later, the Bishop removed him from ministry after getting him assessed at a different treatment centre.

Dr Lee said the complainants decided not to make a criminal complaint and, as far as he was aware, that had remained their decision to this day.

The latest revelation comes after the resignation of the Bishop of Cloyne Dr John Magee.

It has since emerged that gardai spoke to the Bishop in recent weeks about a complaint that he had withheld information from officers investigating allegations of child sex abuse.

hnews@herald.ie

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