Court hearing fixed for priest on sex abuse charges

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A preliminary investigation hearing is to take place at Magherafelt Magistrate’s Court in Co. Derry next month to determine if there is enough evidence to prosecute a priest who is charged with a number of child sex abuse offences.

Fr. Eugene Boland (65) faces four charges of indecently assaulting a female child. He’s alleged to have committed the four offences between June 28, 1990 and June 30, 1992, while he was ministering in a parish in Derry.

Fr. Boland, whose address was given as the Parochial House, Killyclogher Road in Omagh, stepped down as parish priest of Killyclogher last year when a child welfare investigation started.

The then Bishop of Derry, Dr. Seamus Hegarty, said at the time that Fr. Boland “has and continues to co-operate fully with the civil authorities, as has the diocese. While this process is ongoing, the priest is entitled to the benefit of a presumption of innocence”.

The defendant was due to have appeared at the Magistrate’s Court in Derry last month on the same charges but that hearing was adjourned until this week following an application by defence solicitor Kieran McGuigan who said his client “is not in a position to proceed”.

In court today, Mr. McGuigan applied, in the absence of the defendant, to District Judge Des Perry to fix a date for a preliminary investigation hearing. The hearing is to determine whether or not the prosecution authorities have sufficient evidence against Fr. Boland to enable the prosecution to proceed to a preliminary enquiry level.

Mr. Perry fixed the preliminary hearing date for March 22 in Magherafelt.