October 2006

Donegal priest gets seven-year assault term

A 48-year-old Donegal priest has been sentenced to seven years in jail for raping and indecently assaulting a 13-year-old parishioner 21 years ago.

Father Daniel Doherty from Derriscleigh, Carrigart in Donegal pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

He was found guilty in May of two counts of raping the then 13-year-old girl in the sacristy in 1985. 

He was also found guilty of indecently assaulting the girl in his car in December 1984 and in the parochial house in 1985.

His victim, who is now 35, complained about the attacks to gardaí in 2003, after seeing a television programme about sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

The court heard she still has nightmares and found the trial very difficult.

Mr Justice Philip O’Sullivan said he had not heard one word of acceptance, remorse or regret from Daniel Doherty.

The judge said he would face a major challenge in facing up to the consequences of his actions. But he said he took into account the fact that Fr Doherty had no previous convictions, was of good character and had not re-offended.

Members of the Doherty family later intimated he was going to go on hunger strike because he maintained his innocence.

‘Can a priest get a fair trial in this country? There has been a miscarriage of justice in this case,’ a brother of Fr Doherty said.

An earlier application by Fr Doherty’s legal team for permission for him ‘to address some words’ to Mr Justice O’Sullivan following pronouncement of sentence was withdrawn, after consideration of legal issues.