Shocking allegations of a cover-up into child sex abuse allegations against a Fr Ronat have come to light with the publication of the final chapter of the Cloyne Report – including claims that an investigating cleric tried to suggest a teenage victim was to blame.
The most troubling chapter of the Cloyne Report, Chapter Nine has finally been allowed into the public domain on the back of a ruling by Dublin’s High Court.
The Irish Examiner newspaper reports that the newly published chapter claims that the cleric asked to examine abuse allegations against Fr Ronat suggested the teenage girl was to blame.
The new section of the report also found that the bishop’s advisory committee tried to ensure the young woman’s complaints were not treated as child abuse while police buried an allegation of child abuse made by a young boy against the same priest.
The paper reports that Archdeacon Chris Twohig, a cleric drafted in to investigate the priest identified only as Fr Ronat, offered a disturbing analysis of allegations of abuse made by a young woman when aged 15-19.
Archdeacon Twohig asked in his report if it could be deduced that the girl was harassing or ‘besetting Fr Ronat.
He wrote: “Might it not be possible that (the girl) is the Ophelia of Hamlet - sweet bells jangled.”
The Cloyne Report found the Archdeacon’s report lacked any evidence of a genuine investigation and was not impartial.
“It seems to the Commission to be largely concerned with providing reasons why this might not be classified as child sexual abuse. It also, notably, seeks to lay the blame for what occurred on the girl,” the inquiry found.
The Examiner also reports that Fr Ronat, who also served as a career guidance counsellor, is accused of giving teenagers wine, hypnotising them and abusing while hearing confessions in his bedroom.
The 19th cleric against whom allegations have been made in Cloyne, Fr Ronat also defied instructions to stop all standard priestly duties and was found to have been turned up at confirmations.
Chapter Nine also found that former bishop and Vatican aide John Magee and his right-hand man Monsignor Denis O’Callaghan, the vicar general in the Cork diocese of Cloyne, failed the victims of clerical abuse.
The inquiry states that the pair deliberately misled authorities and did not report allegations as recently as three years ago.
Dr Magee, who resigned last year before the Cloyne Report was published, claimed that Fr Ronat only abused the girl when she was 17 - an age that ruled out paedophilia – even though she reported that she was abused from the ages of 15 to 19.
In total, 10 girls and one boy have made formal complaints against Fr Ronat, a pseudonym for the priest concerned as criminal investigations are ongoing.
The boy’s mother initially reported the abuse in 1996 but Monsignor O’Callaghan failed to report the allegations to police until 2003. No charges were brought and the inquiry is critical of the police reaction.
“The statement seems to have been put in a drawer and forgotten about until raised by this investigation,” it said.
Fr Ronat, who has yet to be convicted in relation to a child abuse matter, threatened to sue people complaining about him, the girl’s parents and even threatened legal action against then Bishop Magee.
It is also alleged that he used hypnosis on his victims.
The Cloyne Report had previously stated that failures in the handling of complaints against Fr Ronat rested mainly on Magee and the Monsignor, while at least three priests of the diocese also ignored complaints.