Priest denies Belfast sex abuse

Published Wednesday, 08 January 2014
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A former curate of St Matthew's Catholic Church in Belfast has told a jury he "totally denies" allegations that he sexually abused a young female parishoner in the 1980s.

Priest denies Belfast sex abuse
Fr Peter Donnelly denies all the charges against him. (© UTV)

Father Peter Donnelly, from Drumaroad Hill in Castlewellan, is accused of sexually assaulting the girl in the parochial house of the church over a period spanning from July 1982 to August 1987.

Donnelly has been charged with six counts of indecently assaulting the girl, and a further charge of gross indecency with a child.

The 71-year denies all seven charges against him.

Giving evidence at his trial, Father Donnelly told the jury he served at St Matthew's in east Belfast from 1983 until 1988.

The allegation of abuse was made in September 2010 and at that time, Father Donnelly was a parish priest in south Down.

Earlier on Wednesday, he told Belfast Crown Court what happened when the allegation was made.

He said: "The Bishop called with me and told me this allegation has arisen. He advised me that I should voluntary stand down from the ministry and I thought, for the good of the church, that I should stand down from the ministry whilst this investigation was on-going."

The alleged victim claims that she was indecently assaulted a number of times when she was aged between 10 and into her early teens.

She said the abuse occurred in the parochial house at St Matthew's - a claim that was refuted by Father Donnelly.

When the priest was asked to comment on the allegations against him - including an incident which the alleged victim claimed took place in his bedroom - Father Donnelly responded by saying "I totally deny that."

The trial continues.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Short Strand in Belfast wrote (385 days ago):
Sean, what ever happened to innocent until proved guilty?
Sean in West belfast wrote (386 days ago):
No not another one on sex charges!! Did the Catholic Church not try and cover this up along with all the rest? How can we trust our church? Sickening!!!!
Short Strand in Belfast wrote (389 days ago):
Father Peter Donnelly is a good man. The people of the Short Strand support you.
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