Category Archives: Father Con Desmond
Bishop ‘did not know’ of sex abuse claims
Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Fri, Jan 05, 2007
From the link: http://www.alliancesupport.org/news/archives/001624.html
Bishop of Killaloe Dr Willie Walsh has said he was not made aware in 1995 of any child sexual abuse incidents involving a priest of the diocese who last month received a three-year suspended sentence on pleading guilty to six counts of such abuse.
During the Circuit Court hearing in Waterford on December 20th last, prosecuting counsel Michael Delaney BL said it seemed the priest, Fr Con Desmond, had gone to his superiors in 1995 and confessed the assaults to “relieve his conscience”.
The court heard how he had thought he was under the seal of confession. However, he was told that if allegations surrounding sexual abuse emerged, he would be reported.
A former De La Salle brother, Fr Desmond (71) was principal of the De La Salle national school on Waterford’s Stephen Street when he assaulted a boy there between January 1st, 1982, and June 24th, 1983.
In 1984 Fr Desmond went to Maynooth to become a priest. He served in Killaloe diocese as parish priest of Kilmaley before moving to Knockerra. In December 2002 he was arrested on abuse charges.
Speaking to The Irish Times last night, Dr Walsh confirmed that in 1995 Fr Desmond had come to him expressing concern about the climate at the time where priests and clerical child sex abuse was concerned.
As confidentiality was the norm in conversations between a bishop and his priests, Dr Walsh said he felt he should advise Fr Desmond that should he speak of incidents of abuse, either involving himself or cases he had heard of, then he [Dr Walsh] could not regard that as confidential and should report it to relevant civil authorities.
That “ended the conversation”, Dr Walsh recalled last night.
However, he remained “bothered about it” and advised Fr Desmond to see a psychiatrist at the Granada Institute in Dublin, which treats both victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse. Fr Desmond did so and the psychiatrist later told Dr Walsh the priest was not a risk to children.
Dr Walsh recalled last night there had been no complaint against Fr Desmond at the time and no report of any complaint, and he was further reassured by the psychiatrist’s observations. “I felt, in natural justice, he should be left in his position.”
Fr Desmond remained in ministry until his removal in December 2002 following his arrest on the Waterford assault charges. “I can definitely say I had no information whatsoever [concerning Fr Desmond’s abuse] before or after his ordination until I received the complaints from the garda?,” Dr Walsh said last night.
“I suppose, in the light of further developments, if it came to light now, I probably would have acted differently.”
At pains not to appear to be making excuses, he recalled that when the 1995 conversation with Fr Desmond took place, he had been bishop for six months, had “very little experience”, and that there were neither civil or church guidelines in place on the handling of child sex abuse allegations. But then, as now, he has “always regarded the safety of children as paramount,” he said.
Former priest and school principal loses appeal against sex abuse conviction
Tuesday 20th January 2015
A former priest and school principal has had his appeal against conviction for sexually abusing a pupil rejected by the Court of Appeal.
Con Desmond, (79), with an address as Woodlands, Kilrush Road, Ennis, Co Clare, had pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of indecently assaulting a boy at St Stephen’s De La Salle National School in Waterford between 1978 and June 1980.
He was found guilty by a jury at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to two years imprisonment on each count to run concurrently by Judge Donagh McDonagh on February 19 2013.
Desmond’s appeal against conviction, on grounds of delay and conflicting evidence, was rejected by the Court of Appeal yesterday.
Giving background to the case President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the first incident occurred sometime in January 1978 when the boy who was aged eight at the time had gotten very wet cycling to school.
The evidence was that his teacher, a Brother Aengus, had sent him to the principal’s office possibly with a view to getting him dried off or sending him home because he was soaked, the judge said.
He was sexually abused by Desmond on that occasion and had given extensive details about the precise events that happened, Mr Justice Ryan said. “It undoubtedly constituted serious sexual abuse”.
The next phase concerning the other 12 charges extended from a time when the boy was in third class and fourth class, according to Mr Justice Ryan in his judgment. The victim said he had been a boy among other boys who had been helping out in the school by setting a table, laying the table and cleaning up afterwards.
Every other Saturday or so, Mr Justice Ryan said, the boy described how he had been abused by Desmond in similar fashion to what had happened in the very first instance.
Counsel for Desmond, Colman Cody SC, submitted that there was a long, general delay in bringing the case against his client.
Mr Cody submitted that a witness, Brother Aengus who died some ten or twelve years ago, could have potentially relevant evidence in the case which meant delay had resulted in actual prejudice.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan said “delay in itself is a feature commonly experienced in cases of this kind; They’re not easy cases.”
Mr Justice Ryan said it was “not uncommon” to have absent or unavailable witnesses and one had to ask whether the evidence was potentially relevant to the liability of the accused.
On any view, he said, taking as much as one could possibly infer or project onto the witness, it was “impossible to see how Brother Aengus could have any significant evidence” that would impact on Desmond’s guilt or culpability.
Mr Cody suggested that Brother Aengus might be able to say he could remember sending the boy to the principal’s office. “Suppose he said he could remember, suppose he said he could not, what on earth difference could it possibly make,” Mr Justice Ryan said.
The court rejected the proposition that absence by reason of the Brother’s death could represent a degree of prejudice.
Mr Justice Ryan said it was clear there were some straight conflicts of evidence established by defence counsel Elaine Morgan BL during the trial.
However, counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Noel Whelan BL, had pointed out the victim in this case was now in his forties and was recollecting abuse he had suffered at the age of eight and nine.
Mr Whelan submitted that the core allegations remained “not precisely consistent but essentially and fundamentally consistent”.
There may be some inaccuracy, Mr Justice Ryan said, but that did not detract form the veracity or reliability of the victim. He said mere inconsistencies in the evidence will not necessarily result in “no case to answer”.
Mr Justice Ryan, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice George Birmingham, said the court rejected Desmond’s appeal against conviction.