Priest on trial accused of indecent assault

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A priest has gone on trial at Derry Crown Court accused of indecently assaulting a teenage girl at a parochial house in the city twenty years ago.

Fr Eugene Boland, whose address was given on court papers as Parochial House, Killyclogher Road, Omagh, denies five charges of indecently assaulting the girl between June 28, 1990 and June 30, 1992.

Opening the trial to a jury of four men and eight women, prosecuting counsel Russell Connell said the incidents were allegedly committed in the Parochial House of the White Chapel, Galliagh.

He told the jury they would hear evidence that the girl, who was around 14-years-old at the time, was asked by the priest to “help out” in the Parochial House.

She would answer phones in the house, take messages and deal with visitors if the priests were out.

The jury were told the teen was initially accompanied by a friend but after a while she would go to the Parochial House on her own once a week.

Mr Connell said the jurors would hear the girl “got on particularly well” with 66-year-old Boland as he was “chatty, quite informal and friendly.”

It is alleged that during one conversation, the priest told the teen if he was ten years younger and she was ten years older, she would be “his type of wom an.”

The complainant claims that on another occasion they were looking at a book of church laws at the kitchen table, when Boland told the girl to stand beside him. It is alleged he then put an arm around her waist, moved it up and down before putting his hand underneath her clothing.

The jury were told they will hear evidence the teen was “frozen with shock and fear” and alleges Boland only stopped touching her when they heard one of the other priests approaching the kitchen.

Mr Connell said the girl continued to help out in the parochial house and alleges Boland once asked her if she was having a sexual relationship with her boyfriend.

It is alleged the priest told her if she wanted to talk about it, she should come to him in confession because he would be “raging” if she went to someone else.

The girl claims later the same night Boland hugged her and “kissed her full on the lips”.

She alleges that while helping the priest out with a church bulletin, Boland lifted her top and asked if her trousers were buttoned.

The jury were told the complainant makes further claims that on the same night the priestpushed her against the wall, hugged her and tried to kiss her “passionately” while they were both in his bedroom.

She claims she later approached Boland about his behaviour and he allegedly told her “despite being a priest we are still men underneath and we still think like men”.

The complainant alleges she spoke to him a second time and suggested they go to the bishop. She claims during this conversation Boland was “down on his knees” apologising for all the hurt he put her through”.

The jurors were told they will also hear evidence about when Boland was made aware of the allegations against him by a “designated officer” of the Diocese of Derry.

It is claimed he replied that he was a “touchy, feely kind of person”.

Boland was interviewed by police about the allegations and accepted he may have hugged and kissed the girl, but had never kissed her on the lips.

Prosecuting counsel Russell Connell said once the jurors had heard all the evidence in the case, they would be “satisfied” that the teen “was assaulted and the assaults were in circumstances of indecency”