A 71-year-old Dublin priest, who had already served three years for sexually abusing minors at a boarding school more than three decades ago, was sentenced for another three years earlier this month. Judge Donagh McDonagh had sentenced Tadgh O Dalaigh for a total of five years, though the last two years of that sentence were eventually suspended.
McDonagh made note from reports that were prepared for the hearing of Dalaigh’s sentencing that his ministry as a priest was limited to celebrating mass within the community home of his religious order, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, only. The judge also noted that Dalaigh had taken substantial responsibility in tackling his own risk and abided by a strict management plan that effectively monitored his every move.
McDonagh thus ruled that this qualified as open prison life for Dalaigh.
“I think it is fair to say the assessment of Tadgh Ó Dálaigh’s condition is in marked contrast to the condition of the two injured parties, both of whom continue to suffer, one severe post-traumatic stress and one severe personal and emotional problems, including suicidal ideation. Notwithstanding the positive aspect of his management of his life and his age, I think it is absolutely essential that a term of imprisonment must follow from the jury verdict,” he said.
Earlier, a jury had found Dalaigh guilty of indecently assaulting a boy at the sick ward of a local boarding school in 1979 by forcefully masturbating him until he ejaculated. The priest pleaded guilty to five charges of indecent or sexual assault after one of his victims talked of how his regular middle-class teenage years collapsed after Dalaigh sexually abused him before handing him a Disprin and a glass of water between March and April, 1979.
“He looked at me as potentially to be abused. He looked at me as vulnerable. He saw a boy away from home, vulnerable and alone. It is not something I expected from a priest. … Part of me felt everyone knew. That has stayed with me. It was difficult to trust, difficult for me to be alone in male company, difficult to go to the doctor or dentist. … I felt I was going to commit suicide. The court case was incredibly difficult. A lot of friends and family don’t know I am here today. I have no close friends. I have always felt unworthy,” he said.
Dalaigh also pleaded guilty to sexually abusing another minor in the dormitory, where he claimed to have fondled his victim’s penis four times. That victim said Daligh had robbed him 30 years of his life as well as his innocence, something that could never be returned to him.
Reportedly, both victims attempted suicide at some point in their lives.
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