Retired priest charged with sexually assaulting schoolboy bids to halt trial

The man is charged with over 40 counts of indecent assault, committed on a then-young male between 1967 and 1972
Retired priest charged with sexually assaulting schoolboy bids to halt trial

Aodhan O'Faolain

A retired Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a male over 50 years ago has brought a High Court action aimed at halting his trial before the Circuit Criminal Court.

The man, who is aged in his late 80s, claims that he cannot get a fair trial on grounds including that he suffers from cognitive difficulties, including dementia, that fundamentally affect his ability to defend the allegations against him.

The accused, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denies the allegations.

While he has attempted to address the accusations, the accused man's treating physician has stated in a report that the man's condition is such that he cannot instruct his legal team, understand the trial proceedings, or give evidence in his defence during his trial.

He is charged with over 40 counts of indecent assault, committed on a then-young male between 1967 and 1972.

Alleged assaults

The alleged assaults are said to have occurred at various locations in south Dublin, including in a room in the facility where the priest lived, a nearby shed, and on wasteland.

It is alleged that the priest came to know the boy through a school, and its football team, that the complainant had attended.

The male was a primary school student at the time the offences are alleged to have occurred.

The charges are currently pending before the Circuit Criminal Court. No date has been fixed for the hearing of the criminal trial.

The court heard that the complainant first made statements to the gardaí about the alleged abuse two years ago, and the priest was charged with the offences last year.

In addition to the man's health, it is further submitted that he is prejudiced by the passage of time, and at trial would be unable to access documents or witnesses that would support his defence.

In his judicial reviews proceedings against the DPP, Ireland and the Attorney General, the man seeks various orders and declarations including an injunction prohibiting his trial from taking place.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday. The judge adjourned the matter to a date in March.

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