Priest convicted of raping 13-year-old girl

From:ireland.com Wednesday, 31st May, 2006

A Donegal priest has been convicted of raping a teenage parishioner over 20 years ago.

Fr Daniel Doherty, of Carrigart, Tirconnell, was found guilty of raping and indecently assaulting a girl when she was just 13 years old. The 48-year-old had denied all the charges.

After more than five and a half hours of deliberation the jury of eight men and four women returned majority verdicts at Dublin Central Criminal Court.

Doherty was found guilty of raping the girl on two occasions and indecently assaulting her on a separate occasion. He was found not guilty on a third rape charge, but found guilty of indecent assault.

His victim, who held hands with family members as the verdicts were returned, requested that the media make public her attacker's details.

Mr Justice Philip O'Sullivan heard the priest first assaulted the girl in December 1984 after offering her a lift home. He leaned over to her seat, reclined it, lay on top of her and kissed her. He told her not to tell anyone about it.

The victim told the court how in 1985 when she was left alone with the priest in the sacristy, he followed her into a toilet and raped her.

The court also heard details on how the girl was raped a second time in the sacristy, when she went to go to confession.

The fourth allegation of rape occurred at his Parochial House between April 1 and May 30, 1985. It was on this charge he was found not guilty of rape but guilty of indecent assault.

The defendant was accused of saying to the girl that he wanted her to experience sex in a bed.

During the six-day trial, the priest — who has since left the parish — disputed all the allegations. He told the court that nothing untoward ever happened between them and that he never had sex with her in any place.

Doherty, who is now certified as a sex offender, maintained that the girl never visited the Parochial House.

Mr Justice O'Sullivan adjourned sentencing until October and commended the jury for their attention and care.

PA