Fresh allegations against a priest who was asked to stand down from his position following claims of “misconduct” towards children have emerged this week after an alleged victim claimed she was molested by him as he carried out Confession in her school.
She has claimed the priest, who is not currently serving in Fermanagh, touched her “inappropriately” almost three decades ago.
A second source has said he was aware of issues relating to the priest while the alleged victim claims there were “sufficient complaints” with regards to his behaviour in the 70s and 80s. He was in a position of public responsibility and questions were raised at the time but never fully answered.
The alleged victim’s testimony is contained in correspondence with this newspaper and comes amid a major investigation by The Impartial Reporter into historical child sex abuse in Fermanagh.
Over 30 alleged victims have come forward with claims against over 50 men, some of whom are now dead. The Police Service of Northern Ireland has launched a special team looking at the allegations.
This week the claims relate to the abuse of power in a school by a priest who was never prosecuted for a crime and no findings into his alleged misconduct were ever published by the Catholic Church. 
Terri (not her real name) recalled how confession was held at her school on the first Friday of each month and would usually take place in a small bookstore.
“Every pupil was made to go to Confession by the teachers in the classroom, there was no staying behind. The first time I went to confession with this priest the main part of the religious ceremony went accordingly as it should have. 
“This was October 1976. However, when this part was over, he began to question me with regards to boyfriends, menstruation, and while questioning me he was rubbing his hand up and down the full length of my back feeling my bra strap each time,” she said.
Feeling uncomfortable by what had just happened, Terri recalls standing up to him and asking him if he had finished Confession.
“He said he was, and I left the room. I knew what he was doing wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what was wrong with it. I was only 11 years old. I was one of the youngest children of my year and a total country bumpkin. 
“I told my sister and she told my mother the minute she got into the house at 4pm. I eventually told my mother that night during our nightly chat in bed before settling to sleep.”
The next day she says her mother visited the school and travelled on the bus with her. When they arrived, her mother told her to go to her class as normal. 
“She headed to see the headmaster who was a very unpleasant man. It was only years my mother told me what she had said to him and it was not very nice. She told him that none of her children were ever to be in this priest’s company alone ever again. No priest ever came near me or my four siblings until we all left the school and no teacher every questioned me or them as to why we were not going to Confession every first Friday of the month.”
Looking back now, Terri says the priest’s alleged inappropriateness “makes my skin crawl”.
“As the years passed the rumours with regards to this priest’s behaviour continued to swirl around. In later years I got chatting to several of the boys in my class and they explained to me that the priest was a regular visitor into the boys’ changing rooms after PE, watching them shower and change. A couple of the boys told me that they never showered or changed in front of him, they just put their school uniform on over their dirty PE gear. 
“I always assumed it was only the girls had been on the receiving end of his behaviour but obviously I was wrong. Other girls have told me that they were groped all over by this man while travelling on coaches to events,” she said.
She claims complaints were made with regards to his behaviour again and no court case was held regarding this. 
“I was very lucky as my mother believed in what I was saying, as the priests and teachers had the power over the people in the 1970s and 1980s. They don’t have it now, thank God. People have woken up,” she said.
Now married and living in the area, Terri’s children were born in the mid/late 1990s. 
“I even told my husband that if that man came to the Chapel to christen my children I would walk out and bring the children to the Church of Ireland before I would even let him touch a child of mine. 
“That is how strongly I still feel about that man, he makes my skin crawl even at this stage in my life. I thank God every day that I still have such a strong mother.
“Even to this day I still cannot go to confession in a traditional confessional box, I go to confession if the priest is in an open area on the alter,” she said. 
In 2005 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Clogher refused to confirm the name of the priest after he was asked to stand down from his position following allegations of “misconduct” towards children.
The priest who had been serving in a parish in the Republic of Ireland is alleged to have carried out the misconduct two decades ago while serving in a Northern Ireland parish within the diocese. 
It is believed the priest has served in at least one Fermanagh parish within the last decade.
The Most Rev Dr Joseph Duffy, attended Mass at parish at the time to tell parishioners that their priest had been asked to step down from his duties. The diocese refused to publicly confirm his identity. 
In a statement at the time – and reissued to this newspaper for this week – a spokesman for the Diocese explained that Bishop Duffy had received allegations of misconduct towards minors on the part of their Parish Priest which allegedly took place more that twenty years ago.
“Bishop Duffy told parishioners that as a precautionary measure to protect children he had requested the priest to step down and he had agreed.”
He explained that the priest was “on administrative leave, pending the outcome of investigations by the relevant civil authorities to whom the case has been referred.”
“Bishop Duffy explained that for that reason and out of respect for the rights of all concerned, including the right of privacy, and remembering that a priest, like any other citizen, has the right to presumption of innocence, he was unable to give any more details,” said the statement.
The spokesman said that the current Bishop, Larry Duffy “is not in a position to give an interview at present” and explained that it is diocesan policy to report all allegations to the police and other statutory authorities. 
“We encourage anyone who has concerns about the welfare and safety of children, or anyone who has themselves been victims of clerical abuse to please approach one of our Designated Liaison Persons, Brendan Kelly or Anne Molloy, where you will be received with compassion and kindness.
If anyone feels uncomfortable approaching the DLP’s, please approach the State Authorities, HSE, Tusla, local Gardai, local PSNI.”
As of 2005 the Diocese of Clogher remained the only diocese in Northern Ireland not to release the number of priests who have had allegations of sexual abuse made against them.
Monsignor Liam MacDaid said at the time that to do so would be inappropriate because it would encourage a “manhunt”.

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