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Singing priest, sexual predator: Ex Limerick priest admits sexually assaulting teenage boy for years | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


ONE of the most well-known priests in Limerick was a “sexual predator” who groomed and sexually assaulted a teenager in parish houses in Croom and Kilfinane, in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, on trips abroad, and in hotel rooms after concerts, Limerick Circuit Court heard.

Terence (Terry) Loughran, aged 63, with an address at Ballyduane, Clarina, but is a native of the city, pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual assault on the boy between May 1998 and January 2001.

The victim was aged between 14 and 17 at the time while the then Fr Loughran was in his late 30s.

Prosecuting barrister John O’Sullivan, instructed by State Solicitor Padraig Mawe, outlined the case with the assistance of Detective Garda David Boland.

Mr O’Sullivan said on July 31, 2017, gardai received a notification from the Limerick diocesan office of historic sex abuse following a complaint by the victim. The barrister said Mr Loughran, who was “defrocked” in 2013, had denied the charges after he was arrested in 2019.

A trial commenced last year with Mr Loughran pleading not guilty. He changed his plea to guilty after the victim gave evidence in the witness box but before he was cross-examined.

Mr Loughran, known as a “singing priest” who performed in concerts, was before Judge Tom O’Donnell for sentencing on Friday last – prison sentences totalling four and-a-half years were imposed.

The victim got to know the accused while he was a curate in Corpus Christi in Moyross.

“On May 15, 1998, the victim, aged 14, went to a Lighthouse Family concert in Dublin with Fr Loughran who was 37. Another youth went as well. They stayed in Bewley’s Hotel in a room booked by Fr Loughran. They all stayed in one room. The other youth slept in a single bed and the victim and the accused slept in a double bed. Fr Loughran started grinding his penis at the top of the victim’s backside. The victim remembers Fr Loughran’s penis was hard. Fr Loughran’s face was close to the back of his head and he could feel his breath. He rolled over in the bed to move away. The accused moved away.

“The next thing the victim remembers is his underpants had been taken down and Mr Loughran was stroking the victim’s penis. Fr Loughran was masturbating himself. He started spooning the victim again and continued masturbating,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

When gardai put the allegation to Mr Loughran he “denied it completely” and “found it disgusting”.

On the way to a different concert the victim had fallen asleep in the front passenger seat.

“He felt the accused’s hand down his underpants touching his penis. He woke up but didn’t open his eyes. He was afraid of what might happen or what would be said. He was not afraid of being hurt – it was that Mr Loughran might use it to his advantage. The victim moved and Fr Loughran took his hand out,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

Fr Loughran and the victim stayed in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth where the ex-priest was ordained.

“The victim woke up to the accused sucking his toes. He was leaning over him – they were sharing a bed. The victim’s eyes were not open. Fr Loughran was masturbating over him – he could feel his testicles. The accused had his fingers on the victim’s penis. He was stroking and masturbating the victim’s penis. He put his mouth on the victim’s penis. The victim moved to make him stop. He took the victim’s right hand to touch the accused’s penis. The victim moved to make him stop. He took the victim’s right hand and put his fingers in his mouth. The accused sucked and gently bit the victim’s fingers. The victim’s eyes were not open – he suspected Fr Loughran was masturbating himself as the bed was shaking,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

Fr Loughran denied that the victim ever stayed in St Patrick’s College but may have visited. Det Garda Boland said gardai took a photo of a picture of Fr Loughran’s ordination class on a wall that the victim said the then priest showed him. Photos taken by gardai of the bedroom with a timber floor also corroborated the victim’s allegation as did a story Fr Loughran told the victim about a room that was “boarded up forever” as a seminarian died by suicide in there in the 1800s.

A further sexual assault occurred in Kilfinane parish house where Fr Lougran was assigned after Moyross. Mr O’Sullivan said the victim and accused were in a double bed.

“He was over him. He could feel a gold chain hitting off his chin and neck area. He moved and the accused jumped off the bed and left the room,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

Mr O’Sullivan said the victim tried to stay awake as long as possible as he suspected what was coming.

Mr O’Sullivan said “similar” sexual assaults occurred on a skiing trip in Andorra, as well as on a camping trip in Fanore, in a hotel room in Dublin following a Bryan Adams concert, in a hotel room following a Lord of the Dance show, in a hostel in Glasgow following a Celtic match, in Croom parish house and in a campsite in Paris.

Mr O’Sullivan said: “The victim did not agree to any of these events.”

The prosecuting barrister said Mr Loughran received a three year sentence in 2020 after he was convicted by a jury for sexual assaults and gross indecency on a different victim. His release date was January 2023 but he has remained in prison on remand. Colm Hennessy BL, who represented Mr Loughran, said there were a number of aggravating factors including his position of trust and authority as a priest.

“Mr Loughran arranged certain events, he invited the victim to attend, he was responsible for setting up the accommodation and it was not a coincidence the victim was in the same bedroom and, indeed, in the same bed on a number of occasions. The phrase grooming has been used and it is utterly appropriate because the victim was totally blameless and had no control over the arrangements being made and was totally exploited,” said Mr Hennessy.

“He does unequivocally accept his guilt in relation to these offences. He is sorry and wants to acknowledge the hurt, harm and damage caused to the victim and he hopes he can get on with his life.

All of his life’s work is completely overshadowed by the offending. He is a convicted sex offender,” said Mr Hennessy.


HELPLINES

If you have been affected by this or any of the associated articles, please contact the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 24-Hour National Helpline at 1800 77 8888. They offer a free and confidential listening and support service for anyone who has been raped, sexually assaulted, sexually harassed or sexually abused at any time in their lives. CARI (Children at Risk in Ireland) provides child-centred therapy for children and adolescents who have been affected by sexual abuse 0818 924567





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