Casey says he's 'devastated' by claims of 'family friend'
The former Bishop of Galway has told friends that he was devastated by allegations of child abuse against him made by a family friend.
By Maeve Sheehan
April 12, 2005
The daughter of close friends of Dr Eamonn Casey, the woman is believed to have named the former bishop and four other men as alleged abusers. Two of those are close relatives of the woman. Now aged in her 40s, it is understood that the allegation against Dr Casey relates to when she was five years of age.
Friends of the bishop said there "is no truth" to her claims. They are being investigated by police in the UK, but it is understood that Dr Casey and others who have been accused have yet to be contacted. Dr Casey is said by friends to be most anxious to talk to the authorities so that he can clear his name.
Friends of the former bishop are mystified by the allegations. It is understood that Dr Casey has known the woman since her childhood, as she was the daughter of family friends.
During adulthood, she lived in England and it is understood went through a period of ill health, during which time Dr Casey offered her assistance. They remained in contact after her recovery but later lost touch.
The woman is understood to have made the allegations against Dr Casey and four others in recent weeks after she was in contact with a counselling body in Ireland.
The counselling body is thought to have passed on her complaints to the child protection officer with the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, to which Dr Casey has been attached since 1998.
Dr Casey stood down from his ministry at Our Lady of Fatima church in Staplefield, Sussex, last weekend in line with the diocese's guidelines. He denied the claims to his bishop and declared his intention to fight them.
Shocked parishioners were informed at mass last Sunday that Dr Casey had stepped aside from his ministry. They were also reportedly told that Dr Casey would be returning to Ireland to clear his name.
However, it is not clear whether the woman made a complaint to any of the authorities in Ireland. Although the abuse is said to have occurred in this country, it appears the investigation is being led by authorities in the UK.
Sources in the garda unit co-ordinating a national audit of clerical sex abuse allegations said they were totally unaware of any complaint against Bishop Casey. It is not thought the Health Services Executive has any role in the investigation either. The Dioceses of Galway and Kerry, where Dr Casey served as bishop, and Limerick, where he was a curate, had no knowledge of the complaint.
Dr Casey has refused requests for interviews.
He has moved out of his home in Staplefield last Friday week to another house in the parish, as press gathered in the small Sussex village.The allegation is the latest blow to beset Dr Casey, who has recently recovered from a series of mini strokes. He has lived abroad since it emerged in 1992 that he had fathered a child. He has lived in England since he returned from Equador in South America in 1998 and took up a post in Redhill and later Staplefield. His duties include working as a chaplain to the local hospital.
A spokesman for the diocese of Arundel and Brighton told newspapers last week: "It is my understanding that he will be returning to Ireland to challenge the allegation in the Irish courts. Dr Casey will explain his position when he can but at the moment he needs to prepare himself to address this allegation."