Men [of God] at work in Ireland

03 Apr 2001


GALWAY - A former Franciscan brother who went to confession to confess that he had been sexually abusing young boys was himself then abused by his confessor, a Franciscan priest, a trial in Galway heard. Robert Keoghan, 50, of Waterford, pleaded guilty to 8 charges of indecently assaulting 8 boys aged between 9 and 16 on various dates between 1969 and 1972.

Keoghan, who is currently serving an 18-month sentence for two similar offences, told the court that after a complaint was made by the father of one of his victims, he was sent on a retreat by his superiors. While on this retreat in the early 1970s, he went to confess his abuse. The confession, he said, took place in a room and not a confessional and his confessor abused him.

The judge said he was "flabbergasted" to hear the accused had been abused while in the process of making a confession. The court had heard earlier that Keoghan was sent to a Franciscan seminary at the age of 13. He was illiterate and from the moment he entered the seminary he was systematically abused by other brothers, most of whom were in their 20s.

Since leaving the Franciscan Order 23 years ago he never abused another child and said it never entered his head to do so. His lawyer said Keoghan had been assessed by clinical psychologist, who felt there was a low risk of him abusing again so long as he stayed away from young children.

The judge imposed a term of 2 years in prison, to run concurrently, on all 8 charges before the court.

Irish Times, 2/20/00


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