May 2018 Comments

ANON May 24th, 2018 @ 11:20 AM

Nottinghamshire imam guilty of sexually assaulting boy…

A spiritual leader has been found guilty of three counts of indecently assaulting a boy in a mosque's attic.

Mohammed Rabani, 61, who was imam at a mosque in Sneinton, Nottinghamshire, for more than 25 years, denied the charges but was found guilty at trial.

The indecent touching happened from 1990 to 1992 and at the time the victim was aged 12 to 13.

The judge at Nottingham Crown Court told Rabani "a prison sentence is inevitable" when he is sentenced.

Judge Gregory Dickinson QC said: "The jury found you guilty of repeated sexual abuse of a young boy who was entrusted to your care.

"This abuse took place in a mosque, a place of holiness, of which you were the imam.

I will give you bail so that you can put your affairs in order."

Rabani's victim went to the police in 2015, more than 20 years after the assaults took place.

Rabani, from St Stephen's Road, Sneinton, Nottinghamshire, left court surrounded by supporters.

He has been released on conditional bail until sentencing on 31 May.

Det Con Louise Gorman said: "I am pleased with today's verdict and hope that it gives the victim a sense of closure.

"The victim and the witnesses who have given evidence have shown significant courage at speaking out against the well-known Rabani who was in a position of power within the mosque.

Their bravery and determination over the last three years is testament to today's result.

"We take all reports of abuse seriously, no matter when they happened, and it is a really positive step in their recovery for victims when non-recent abuse allegations result in a conviction."

ANON May 24th, 2018 @ 11:17 AM

Catholic Church sex abuse scandals - People’s Pope lacks leadership…

As well as being a likeable and accessible Church leader, Pope Francis exhibits all the characteristics of an exemplary human being.

Unlike Benedict, his immediate predecessor, Francis comes across as warm, gracious and truly humble, with a capacity for empathy than not even John Paul II displayed.

Yet his papacy continues to be haunted by clerical sex abuse scandals, largely because he is still unable to grasp the enormity of the problem.

He has yet to respond in any meaningful way to the criminal conviction in Australia of the archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, the most senior Catholic in the world to be found guilty of concealing child sex abuse.

Earlier this year, he accused victims of Chile’s most notorious paedophile of slander during a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic church its credibility in that country.

He later apologised but his remarks caused great pain to the victims.

He is to be credited for setting up in 2014 the Vatican commission to protect children and for being vocal about the abuse scandals. But proof of the Catholic Church’s seriousness in tackling the problem will be revealed by action and not just words.

It appears that Francis wants to be the People’s Pope. That takes more than kissing babies. It requires strong leadership to root out, once and for all, the scourge of clerical sex abuse.

ANON May 24th, 2018 @ 11:15 AM

Priest steps aside due to historic abuse investigation…

A Catholic priest has voluntarily stepped aside from his duties in the Northern diocese of Dromore while police investigate a historical allegation of abuse against him.

A statement from the diocese says that both it and the priest are co-operating fully with the ongoing PSNI investigation and that they will continue to do so.

In February, the Bishop of Dromore, John MacAreavey resigned because of criticism by victims of the paedophile Fr Malachy Finegan of the bishop’s handling of allegations against him.

The victims said the bishop had added to their suffering by celebrating Mass in public with Finegan when he was confined to private ministry because of his record of abuse, and by saying his funeral Mass.

The diocese’s statement urges anyone who has a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, the Social Services or the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer who can be contacted at 077 8991 7741 from anywhere in the UK and 0044 77 8991 7441 from the Republic of Ireland.

Dromore encompasses much of south Co Down and portions of counties Armagh and Antrim.

ANON May 18th, 2018 @ 05:21 PM

Grace' inquiry believe witnesses that have important evidence are dead…

Grace’ was a young woman left in a foster home despite allegations of abuse

The Commission investigating the care of ‘Grace’, a young woman left in a foster home despite allegations of abuse, has reported that witnesses believed to have important evidence are dead.

The Farrelly Commission has also been granted a 12-month extension of its work due to the enormous volume of documentation it is examining.

The first phase of its work is to investigate the role of public authorities in the care and protection of Grace.

An interim report prepared by chairperson Marjorie Farrelly SC and published this evening - outlines how the ill-health, frailty and age of some important witnesses is presenting “significant challenges” to the progress of the investigation.

A number of hearings have had to be adjourned and evidence from some witnesses have had to be taken in “appropriate settings” taking these factors into account.

It says that many people the Commission believes would have had important evidence were dead before the inquiry was established.

The report also says: “One important witness assisting the Commission passed away before being in a position to complete the giving of evidence”.

The report requests an extension of time for the Commission’s work due to the “enormous volume of documentation” disclosed to it from a wide range of public bodies, organisations and individuals.

The Commission was due to deliver a final report on phase one of it’s work today but Health Minister Simon Harris has granted a 12-month extension.

Disabilities minister Finian McGrath said that it’s “regrettable” that the Commission wasn’t in a position to submit its final report by the original deadline but added: “I recognise that this has not been possible due to the issues identified by the Commission.

ANON May 18th, 2018 @ 05:18 PM

1/2...Families ‘utterly let down’ by Grace scandal probe…

The State commission into the Grace foster abuse scandal has been severely criticised by the families of victims for being overly “hostile and adversarial”.

It comes as the Government published an interim report from the Farrelly
Commission, which has requested a 12-month extention to complete its work.

Ministers have approved the extension sought by the sole member of the commission, Marjorie Farrelly, because of the volume of work involved and a difficulty in taking testimony.

It has emerged a number of the families of the victims of abuse at the foster home are deeply upset at the “highly confrontational and adversarial” nature of the commission so far.

The Irish Examiner has spoken to a number of victims’ relatives who feel “utterly let down” by the tone and nature of the interviews with the commission.

“We are shocked at how we have been attacked, accused almost of telling mistruths.

This was not what we were expected. It has been horrendous,” said one.

At Cabinet, Disability Minister Finian McGrath is said to have brought a memo to Government seeking to approve the extension to the commission.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr McGrath said he understood the reasons for the delays but insisted everything must be done to understand what happened and to ensure it never happens again.

“It is regrettable that the Commission will not be in a position to submit its phase 1 final report by today, as specified in the terms of reference.

However, I recognise that this has not been possible due to the issues identified by the commission,” he said.

ANON May 18th, 2018 @ 05:16 PM

2/2...Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, who has led the way in bringing the scandal to light, criticised the delay, saying it was “typical of the lack of respect the State has for its own women”.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, he said: “How long more must they wait for the truth and justice?”

The interim report said the “ill health, frailty or age of some important witnesses whose evidence is desired by the Commission continues to present significant challenges to the Commission’s investigation”.

“Many of the persons the Commission believes would have had important evidence were dead before the Commission was established. A number of hearings have been adjourned,” it said.

The commission was established on foot of reports in the Irish Examiner about the deficiencies in the care of Grace and 46 other intellectually disabled people who passed through the home in the 1980s and 1990s.

Grace, a pseudonym, was placed with the foster family in 1989 when she was a child.

She remained there until 2009, despite a 1995 decision by the South Eastern Health Board to cease using the family for placements and to remove other vulnerable young people

ANON May 18th, 2018 @ 05:06 PM

Stoke paedophile caught in St Neots with cheerleader outfit…

A paedophile drove more than 100 miles with a cheerleader outfit in his car in order to have sex with a 10-year-old.

Michael Bickerton, 49, of Stoke-on-Trent, drove to Cambridgeshire after making arrangements on a website, but was arrested on arrival.

A jury at Peterborough Crown Court found him guilty of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.

Bickerton was sentenced in Cambridge to eight years in jail.

Cambridgeshire Police said Bickerton came to their attention after using a website to chat to people, where he expressed a liking for "children from the age of eight".

'Sex-related paraphernalia'
After swapping messages, he travelled 130 miles (210km) from his Minshall Street home to St Neots with the intention of meeting a 10-year-old girl.

When Bickerton arrived at the meeting place on 26 August he was arrested and "sex-related paraphernalia" was found in his car, police said.

This included a cheerleader outfit, Viagra, lubricant and a mask.

"Bickerton denied he had any intention of meeting a girl, that he believed the girl to be fictitious and was instead planning on meeting another man for sex," Det Sgt Kath McCready said.

He told officers messages and conversations about sexually abusing children were "merely fantasy".

Bickerton denied one count of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence but a jury took just two hours to return a unanimous guilty verdict at Peterborough Crown Court on 22 February.

During his sentencing on Monday, Judge Sean Enright said Bickerton had an entrenched sexual interest in children, which was reflected in his sentence

Benson May 7th, 2018 @ 10:18 AM

Former Australian detective Denis Ryan was driven out of the police force in 1972 when he tried to bring a paedophile priest to justice.

Now almost 50 years after he was ordered by superiors to drop the case - and deprived of a police pension - Mr Ryan will receive compensation.

The 86-year-old man was recently awarded an undisclosed sum by the state government of Victoria.

"When I heard the news, I nearly jumped out of my socks," he said.
'Destruction of my life'

As a detective in the 1970s, Mr Ryan tried to charge Monsignor John Day with sexual offences in the regional city of Mildura.

However, he was blocked by senior police officers and ordered to drop the case. Mr Ryan has blamed the decision on his superiors' "allegiance" to the Church.

In 2015, he testified at a royal commission inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australia. At that inquiry, a former Victoria Police chief commissioner, Mick Miller, gave evidence in his favour.

Mr Miller said there had been "misconduct by senior Victoria Police officers, including dereliction of duty, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and inciting other members of the police force to join the conspiracy against Denis Ryan in order to conceal the crimes committed by Day", according to a report by Fairfax Media.

Benson May 6th, 2018 @ 10:39 AM

Richard “Ricky” McDonnell is standing at the gate, staring at a house on Colmcille Terrace, Granard, Co Longford. There was a time, 34 years ago, when he knew this house inside out. It was here he had lived from the age of six to 17 – including several years on his own – until he had to leave. It was here he had spent many hours with his former girlfriend Ann Lovett, who died aged 15 after giving birth at the grotto in the town on January 31st, 1984. It was here, on that January day, Ricky McDonnell’s life changed utterly.

Ann Lovett’s death became one of the most soul-searching events of 1980s Ireland. It continues to resonate in the national psyche more than three decades later, in part because so many questions were left unanswered.

Ricky McDonnell has never talked publicly about those traumatic days in Granard. Why has he now chosen to break his silence?

“At the beginning I was silent out of fear, and then it was out of respect,” says McDonnell, now 51, when asked why he took so long to speak out. When The Irish Times published an in-depth article on the death of Ann Lovett last month, he was encouraged by friends to contact this reporter. “I’m now hoping that other people will come forward and tell what they know about that time,” he says.
* * * * *

On the day Ann Lovett died, Ricky McDonnell had been fixing fences with a local farmer in the freezing cold rain before they abandoned the work just after midday. McDonnell went home to Colmcille Terrace, where he was living alone, and got into bed to keep warm, Radio Luxembourg playing in the background as usual. It was still bright, gone about 4.45pm, when he heard urgent, insistent banging on the door downstairs.

“A friend that I had in the town, who had often borrowed a bike off me before; he was knocking on the door. I got up and answered the door, and he was just standing there, talking gibberish. I could get ‘Ann’, ‘the Palms’, ‘accident’.” (“The Palms” is the name local people call the town’s grotto, beside St Mary’s Church, with its tall fir-tree palms.)


ANON May 3rd, 2018 @ 11:36 AM

Justice delayed - Redress cases…

Yesterday’s decision by an Australian court that Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell must face trial on charges of historical sexual offences makes him the most senior Catholic official to be tried on such allegations.

He pleaded not guilty but the decision is a reminder that these scandals cannot be filed away in the archives just yet.

A Dáil protest today underlines one more time how very difficult it is to reach closure on these matters.

The January 2014 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in favour of abuse victim Louise O’Keeffe was the culmination of more than 30 years of legal struggle.

It was believed then that her case would be a template in the redress process but that has not been that case.

The disappointment this provokes adds to the bitterness caused by the State’s intimidation of potential litigants, warning them to drop cases saying they would be pursued for costs if their actions failed.

These matters should have been resolved decades ago. That they have not been raises disturbing questions. Justice delayed, as the old saying goes, is justice denied.

ANON May 3rd, 2018 @ 11:33 AM

Disgraced priest appeals sex abuse conviction and jail term…

A Catholic priest jailed for nine years for sexually abusing three children and a trainee priest is appealing his conviction and sentence.

Father Paul Moore, 82, was found guilty of the crimes at the High Court in Glasgow earlier this year.

Judge Lady Rae told Moore he had committed "despicable crimes".

On Thursday an official at the High Court in Edinburgh confirmed that Moore's legal team had lodged an appeal against conviction and sentence.

The trial heard that Moore abused one boy at a school, another at a leisure centre and a third on the beach at Irvine in the 1970s.

He was also found guilty of indecently assaulting a student priest in 1995.

A BBC Scotland investigation revealed five years ago that Moore confessed his abuse to his bishop in 1996.

Bishop Maurice Taylor, 91, gave evidence in the trial and told the court Moore admitted he had "an attraction to young boys" and had "a desire to abuse minors".

The bishop sent him to a treatment centre in Toronto and to Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands.

Moore was removed from the pastoral ministry after his admission but continued to live in a house purchased by the church.

The priest was identified in court as Francis Moore, but he was known as Father Paul.

He denied sexually abusing the three boys and a student priest between 1977 and 1996, telling police who interviewed him: "It is absolutely untrue. I would take a lie detector test."

ANON May 3rd, 2018 @ 11:31 AM

Gordon Anglesea: Jailed child abuse ex-police boss died of natural causes…

A former police superintendent who was jailed for sexually abusing young boys died from multi-organ failure, an inquest has heard.

Gordon Anglesea, of Old Colwyn, Conwy, was jailed for 12 years for historical offences in November 2016.

The 79-year-old died the following month at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire after falling ill at HMP Rye Hill in Northamptonshire.
Coroner Anne Pember said he died of natural causes.

The inquest heard he had suffered multi-organ failure and had pneumonia.

Mr Anglesea had arrived at Rye Hill on 16 November following a short stay at HMP Altcourse in Liverpool.

On 7 December he was taken to hospital as he was suffering from lack of oxygen and low blood pressure.

In the days beforehand he had been seen by nurses at the prison after complaining of abdominal pain and vomiting.

He died in hospital on 15 December 2016.

During his trial, Mold Crown Court was told how the ex-North Wales Police officer abused two boys between 1982 and 1987 when they were 14 or 15.

He was convicted of one charge of indecent assault against one boy and three indecent assaults against another following a six-week trial.

ANON May 2nd, 2018 @ 10:36 PM

Cardinal Pell likely to face two separate trials…

The trial of Vatican Treasurer George Pell, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of historical sexual offences, is expected to last ten weeks, an Australian court heard this morning.

The County Court of Victoria state will hold a second hearing in a fortnight to plan how to proceed, with the prosecution and defence agreeing to press for two separate trials, each estimated to take about five weeks.

Cardinal Pell, 76, is the highest ranking Catholic worldwide to face criminal trial on sex offences. Details of the charges have not been made public.

The Victoria Magistrates' Court yesterday ordered that Cardinal Pell face trial on historical sexual offences involving multiple accusers following a month-long pre-trial hearing. Cardinal Pell formally entered a not guilty plea.

No trial dates have been set yet.

Cardinal Pell's lawyer, Robert Richter, urged the court to move forward as quickly as possible on the charges, which involve offences alleged to have occurred 20 years apart at a public swimming pool and a church.

"We would like an expedited trial for various reasons - number one, my client is 76 years old," Mr Richter told the court.

Mr Richter also said a "critical witness" for the case involving alleged offences at the church was 80 and in ill health.

"We would suggest the indictment for that one could proceed separately and quickly," Mr Richter said.

Prosecutor Mark Gibson initially estimated it would take three months to prepare for trial but Judge Susan Pullen said that seemed excessive.

"You've got to move on with this," Ms Pullen told the prosecutor.

Cardinal Pell is on a leave of absence from his role as economy minister to Pope Francis, who has said he would not comment on the case until it was over.

The Vatican said in a statement it had "taken note" of the court's decision to proceed to a full trial.

The leave of absence the Pope Francis granted Cardinal Pell last year so that he can defend himself against the charges "is still in place", the Vatican said

ANON May 2nd, 2018 @ 10:33 PM

Accused for trial on child sex charges…

An Antrim man has been ordered to stand trial accused of a litany of historical sex offences.

Appearing at the town's Magistrates Court, David Cairns (64) used a walking stick and appeared unsteady on his feet.

Cairns, from Craigmore Park in the town, faces 17 charges for offences allegedly committed against one boy on dates between June 1, 1994, and August 31, 1998.

Cairns is accused of five counts of buggery with a boy under 16, eight charges of indecently assaulting the boy and four of committing acts of gross indecency.

None of the facts giving rise to the allegations were opened in court yesterday, but a prosecuting lawyer argued that the papers and statements formed the basis of a prima facie case against Cairns, a submission that the defence conceded.

Cairns declined the opportunity to comment on the charges or to give evidence. Cairns was freed on his own bail of £500. He will be arraigned at Antrim Crown Court on May 29

ANON May 2nd, 2018 @ 10:51 AM

Department of Justice invites Magdalene women to come together at event…

The Department of Justice has invited hundreds of Magdalene women to a two-day event in June to enable them to meet and talk to each other.

The event is being organised by Dublin Honours Magdalenes (DHM), a voluntary group who have come together with entrepreneur Norah Casey to honour them.

It will take place over two days in Dublin on June 5 and 6. Organisers said that for many of the women, this will be the first time that they will be able to speak freely to other women incarcerated in the laundries.

The event will also fulfil two key aspects of the Magdalene Restorative Justice Scheme: to bring together those women who wish to meet others who also spent time in the Magdalene Laundries; and to provide an opportunity for a listening exercise to gather views on how the Magdalene Laundries should be remembered by future generations.

Among those invited to the event are a group of women who were resident in training centres attached to or on the grounds of laundries.
These women worked in the laundries as children but had been refused access to redress by the department.

Following an investigation and scathing report by the Ombudsman, the Taoiseach last week confirmed that these women will now receive redress.

To date, almost 700 women who worked in the Magdalene Laundries have received redress.

Both the justice minister and Dublin City councillors have provided financial support to the event.

President Michael D Higgins will host a reception on June 5. That will be followed by a gala dinner at The Mansion House in Dublin.

The following morning the women will be invited to share their views on how the Magdalene Laundries might be memorialised facilitated by UCD Magdalene Oral History project.

ANON May 2nd, 2018 @ 10:49 AM

1/3...No hashtags and street protests over abuse of children in care…

Buck stops with Irish society for case after case of child protection failure

In 2005 at just eight Rachel Barry was sent to a foster home in Dunmore, Co Galway, for monthly respite care. There she was repeatedly raped by Keith Burke.

Do we really care about children in the care of the State? And by “we”, I don’t mean Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, or any other State service. I mean the rest of us Irish society.

We know that individual social workers try to do their best. In many cases, they do very well.

But more often than we would like, things go badly wrong for children in care.

It is little more than a year since the publication of the reports into the “Grace” case, concerning an intellectually disabled young woman who suffered abuse and neglect over a prolonged period in a foster care placement.

Last week we saw young women courageously waive their anonymity and speak out on RTÉ Prime Time about a litany of rape and sexual abuse perpetrated on them while in a foster home.

Most shockingly, even after one of them spoke out and the Health Service Executive had found the complaint to be “credible”, it was decided that two other foster children should not be removed from the home.

Instead, the unworkable and entirely inadequate solution was that the foster parents agreed that the children would not be left alone with the accused, Keith Burke.

Burke was eventually charged with more than 70 counts of rape and buggery on three girls and convicted of 23 sample charges.

Shockingly, even after one of them spoke out and the Health Service Executive had found the complaint to be “credible”, it was decided that two other foster children should not be removed from the home

The 2014 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the Louise O’Keeffe case clearly established that where there exists a risk of sexual abuse, and the State is aware of that risk, it is obliged to take protective measures to prevent that risk from becoming a reality. It seems obvious that this obligation was not discharged in this case.

ANON May 2nd, 2018 @ 10:45 AM

2/3...Shouldering blame…

Why is this sort of thing allowed to happen, over and over? Of course, social services must shoulder much of the blame , and there should be accountability. But why do the rest of us tolerate it?

What happened in the Keith Burke case, or in previous similar cases, might not be your fault or mine; but in another way, it is all of our fault.

There might not be a direct line of responsibility to individual citizens but, like it or not, there is a line of responsibility to society at large.

Individuals might not be able to exert much influence; but when we care enough about something, then collectively, we can bring about change.

There is an obvious contrast to be drawn between the public reaction to this case (some brief expressions of horror, followed by a return to business-as-usual) and the reaction to the recent trial for rape of two Ulster rugby players, who were both acquitted.

There were outpourings on social media and multiple street demonstrations, which resulted in contracts being revoked and a review being launched of our laws on sexual offences. It has fed into a national conversation on sexual consent.

It may even have helped to create the conditions in which the young women abused by Keith Burke felt able to come forward and tell their stories on camera.

There were multiple victims, all of whom were children as young as six. The rapes were repeated and sadistic.

ANON May 2nd, 2018 @ 10:43 AM

3/3...Flawed priorities…

And yet the case is not trending on Twitter. There will be no hashtags and no street protests.
The story will disappear from the news cycle in a few days. If this is indicative of our priorities (and if past cases and reports are anything to go by), there will be no change.

There were multiple victims, all of whom were children as young as six. The rapes were repeated and sadistic

Maybe we think that protecting children in foster care is someone else’s responsibility; someone else’s problem.

Maybe, as a society, we just don’t care enough to do what is necessary to force a change. Hearing that might make people uncomfortable. Maybe it should.

In Spotlight (the 2015 film that won the Academy Award for best picture for its portrayal of the Boston Globe investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church), one of the characters stated: “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse them.” Why, as a society, do we seem to be a lot less exercised about accountability in this case than we were about accountability for misogynistic behaviour by rugby players?

Why, in our budgets and elections, do we place more priority on tax cuts than on adequately resourcing social services?

Do we simply care less about these children?

This case should be the one to bring about change. But so should the last one, and the one before that.

The State apparatus won’t change by itself. We all need to do our part in forcing it to change both by doing what is needed to support social services in doing their job, and by holding them to account when they fail.

Dr Conor O’Mahony is a senior lecturer at the school of law at University College Cork and deputy director of the Child Law Clinic