Wednesday 20 March 2019

Church withdraws 'inaccurate reporting' accusation

Bartholomew Prendergast
Bartholomew Prendergast

The Catholic Church has been forced to withdraw a false accusation of inaccurate reporting that it levelled against a Sunday newspaper.

It comes after the Church's communication office complained about a Sunday World article concerning the trial of paedophile Bartholomew Prendergast.

The 65-year-old council worker, from Cruachan, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, last month pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and 15 counts of indecent assault against three women, all aged between nine and 15 at the time.

The court heard the victims believed Prendergast was "fixed" and no longer posed a threat to them after local parish priest, Fr Brendan Crowley, suggested he get counselling.

The Church demanded a retraction and an apology over the article, which it said "impugns Canon Crowley's good name and reputation".


It claimed the piece - which was based on an interview with Fr Crowley, quoted him extensively and was headlined "I didn't know he was a paedo" - suggested Fr Crowley knew Prendergast was a paedophile.

It complained the journalist was "assertive".

However, in a statement by the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore last night, the diocese accepted the news report by journalist Patrick O'Connell was "wholly factually correct".

It also expressed sympathy to Prendergast's victims.

It said Fr Crowley "was never informed, nor had any knowledge, of the abuse which the victims endured as children".

The Church said Fr Crowley had "no knowledge whatsoever that Mr Prendergast posed a threat to children. The issue that was discussed had nothing to do with child abuse".

It added it "wishes to avail of this opportunity to convey sincere sympathy to Stephanie Hickey and Stephanie's sister Deirdre, as well as to the other unnamed victim, all of whom suffered horrendous abuse perpetrated by Mr Prendergast".

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