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Bishop apologises to Kearns' victims

Friday, 21st March, 2014 5:06pm

Bishop apologises to Kearns' victims

Bishop Leo O'Reilly (pictured) has expressed his 'profound sorrow' in an apology to the victims of Fr Gerry Kearns, who was convicted of indecent assaults on minors last week.

Paul Neilan

Bishop of Kilmore Leo O'Reilly has expressed his "profound sorrow" and apologised to the victims of convicted abuser Fr Gerry Kearns.

On Wednesday, March 12, the 73-year-old priest pleaded guilty to five charges of indecent assault on two boys in the mid-80s.

He was sentenced to four years in prison, with the last three suspended for an 'abuse of position' and 'trust' in molesting and fondling the boys, who gave powerful testimony on the wrecking effects the abuse had on them, with one victim saying "I tried to do away with myself twice'.

"Regarding the sentencing of Father Andrew Gerard Kearns," said the bishop, "a priest of the Diocese of Kilmore, pleaded guilty to five charges of indecent assault of minors in Cavan Circuit Court on 26th November 2013.

"These offences date back to the mid nineteen eighties. On 12th March victim impact statements were submitted and Father Kearns received a custodial sentence for these offences and his name has been added to the Register of Sex Offenders.

"I wish to apologise and express my profound sorrow to the victims of this abuse, and to their families, for the pain and trauma inflicted on them by Father Kearns.

"Such abuse is a grave betrayal of trust and I condemn it unreservedly. These past two years have been an extremely difficult and painful time for the victims and their loved ones. I hope that this verdict will help to bring some measure of closure to this very distressing experience for them.

"The diocese of Kilmore first became aware of the allegations against Father Kearns in September 2011 and since then he has been on leave from ministry, has retired from parish duties and has been living outside his parish.

"In accordance with Church procedures I have also referred this case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome and I now intend to complete a Church inquiry into the allegations made against Father Kearns.

"At this time I wish to publicly acknowledge the contributions of our Diocesan Child Safeguarding Committee and the Safeguarding Representatives in all our thirty-six parishes who work hard to ensure the welfare of all children involved in Church activities in the diocese.

"Finally, I encourage anyone with concerns regarding the safety of children in the Diocese of Kilmore to contact, without delay, the diocese, the Gardaí or the HSE," he said.