A former Christian brother teacher convicted of molesting two boys in his classroom has received a prison sentence of 30 months.
The 70-year-old man taught in a primary school in Co Kilkenny from 1975-1981.
The defendant, who cannot be identified until other outstanding legal matters are dealt with, was convicted by a jury after a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last April.
He had pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of indecent assault on the two victims at various times during the school year from 1979-1980. The jury convicted him of seven counts and were unable to agree a verdict on four counts.
He was convicted of indecently assaulting one boy on two occasions. On the first occasion, the man molested the child after he had asked him to stay behind and clean off the blackboard.
The man also molested the boy after he had called him up to the top of the classroom to read. The victim told the court it had taken him 40 years to open up about the assaults which had a significant impact on his childhood and the rest of his life.
He said the assaults left him believing there was something wrong with him. He said he was afraid to confide in his wife because he feared it would make him less of a person.
The second boy was also molested when he was brought up to read in front of the class and the court heard he estimated this happened up to 40 times in the school year up to June 1980.
This victim told the court that he went from being a happy, care-free child to an angry delinquent because of the assaults. He said he felt humiliated by his abuser and his anger led him to a life of bad decisions and crime.
"My anger has destroyed just about every relationship I have ever been in. He killed my ambition. The classroom became a battlefield and I realised none of my potential," he said.
He said the defendant stole his faith in God because he could not believe how a "man of the cloth" could do these things.
Judge Elma Sheahan said the offending was aggravated by the disparity in the age between the victims and the defendant, the breach of trust and the repeated offending. She said the public nature of the indecent assaults was also an aggravating aspect.
She noted the mitigating factors included his long work history and his caring of more elderly members of his congregation during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Noting that the maximum penalty for this offence at the time was set at two years, she imposed an eight-month sentence on five of the seven counts. She said it would be appropriate to make these consecutive to reflect the very significant harm done
She then reduced this sentence of 40 months to 30 months to allow for the sentencing principles of proportionality and totality.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800-77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.