Retired priest who forced boy to perform sex acts escapes jail

A retired priest who forced a then 16-year-old boy to perform oral and anal sex on him 20 years ago has escaped a prison sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Father Harry Moore (aged 68), formerly a curate in a North Dublin parish, pleaded guilty to two counts of buggery and two counts of indecent assault on dates between July 1, 1984 and March 31, 1985.

Judge Desmond Hogan suspended sentences of seven years for the two counts of buggery and three years for the indecent assaults. He suspended those terms for 10 years.

Judge Hogan called the offences a "very serious breach of trust" on a vulnerable 16-year-old boy.

He said Moore had used the "power and authority of his clerical position to control and dominate a much younger person" and had "connived to use his position to perpetrate the acts".

He said he must take this into account when imposing sentence Moore’s age and very poor health.

Garda Carol Fleming earlier told Ms Roisin Lacey BL, prosecuting, that Moore was known to be an alcoholic by people in the parish at the time.

Moore was considered to be a "trendy priest" as he wore casual clothes and had a large collection of rock music. He spent a lot of time with young people on a green in his local area where he formed a friendship with his victim.

Gda Fleming said that the victim and his friends would call regularly to Moore’s house as they knew they could get drink from him.

Gda Fleming told Ms Lacey the first sexual incident occurred when the victim called to Moore because he was upset following an argument with his parents. They were both drinking when Moore leaned over and performed oral sex on the boy.

Moore directed the teenager not to tell his parents or any of his friends saying they would not want to know him anymore if he told them what had happened.

Garda Fleming said Moore regularly approached the boy saying if he did not come back to his house, he would tell everyone what they had done together.

On one occasion Moore forced the victim to go back to the his house where he made him remove his clothes and brought him to his room where he also undressed and performed oral sex on him.

Garda Fleming said Moore then made the victim perform oral sex on him and followed that by forcing the boy to perform anal sex on him. Afterwards he washed the boy’s penis in a sink in his bedroom.

Garda Fleming said this abuse happened once or twice weekly between 1984 and 1985. At one stage the victim became aware of AIDS and said to Moore that he should wear a condom. Moore did not agree to this saying "it was like shaking hands with a glove".

Garda Fleming said the victim, who is now 37 years old, reported this sexual abuse to the gardaí in April 1999.

Moore voluntarily came to the station in November 1999, in the presence of his solicitor, with a pre-prepared statement in which he admitted to touching the victim’s penis but claimed the teenager had not been forced into anything.

Garda Fleming agreed with Mr Felix McEnroy SC (with Mr Colm O Briain BL), defending, that Moore was a chronic alcoholic.

She further accepted that Moore was no longer in contact with children and had no outstanding charges of this nature against him. Garda Fleming said she was not aware that Moore attended hospital on 19 occasions in 24 years for because of his alcohol addiction.

Dr Patrick Walsh, from the Granada Institute, told Mr McEnroy that Moore was first referred there by the Archdiocese after he had made inappropriate comments during a sermon in 1993.

He agreed with Mr McEnroy that Moore had been drinking heavily since 1970. His father died before his birth and he was taken into care when he was a very young child.

Dr Walsh said when Moore was seven years old he was moved to an orphanage, which he left at 17 years of age to join the priesthood.

He said he rated Moore’s progress with the Institute as ‘successful’ and he believed him to be at a low risk of re-offending. Moore had been sober for 10 years but if he relapsed into his alcoholic behaviour he might be a risk to young children again.

Dr Walsh said Moore had been burdened with guilt over what he had done to this young man and that he diagnosed him as suffering with "chronic low self esteem".

Mr McEnroy said Moore wished to express his sincerest apologies to his victim and said he fully accepted that his conduct was "utterly, utterly disgarceful".

He said at no time should the victim blame himself for what happened. "In every breath he takes for the rest of his life, he must be told that he was not in the wrong."

Judge Hogan suspended the seven- and three-year sentences for a period of 10 years on condition that he enter into a bond to be of good behaviour for 10 years, undergo an alcohol treatment programme, remain alcohol free and and continue to engage with the Granada Institute.

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