RTE apologises to Priest wrongly accused of abuse (important update: An action for defamation against RTÉ by a Galway priest is to begin in the High Court on 15 November)

On the evening of the 23rd May 2011, RTÉ broadcast a Prime Time Investigates programme entitled “A Mission to Prey”.

Before this broadcast Prime Time conducted an interview with Fr. Kevin Reynolds, the then parish priest at Ahascragh in Galway.

This interview took place beside the parochial house after the annual First Holy Communion Mass.

The cases of abuse that have occurred in our Church, that have brought shame on us all, have been dealt with by the Holy Father, and allegations are intensely investigated in the light of past experience.

But not all allegations have any foundation in fact, and Father Alexander Lucie-Smith has written about this in his blog on the Catholic Herald site. He comments that this is not the first time that the media in the Republic have – quite simply – got it wrong:

“In fact the Irish media have form on this matter. Some may have heard of the case of Nora Wall, a former nun sentenced to life imprisonment for rape. Yet the real scandal of the Nora Wall case concerns the way a totally innocent woman was the subject of a hysterical witch-hunt. Miss Wall’s conviction was quashed, and she has been found to be a victim of a miscarriage of justice. You can read a summary of the case here. While the charges against Miss Wall aroused huge ire, the fact that an innocent woman was pilloried has not aroused similar passion. But a passion for justice ought to cut both ways.”

During this interview allegations were made against Fr. Reynolds. He immediately protested his innocence and denied all the allegations.

Between the interview and the broadcast, Fr. Kevin Reynolds, through his Solicitors, repeated his protestations of innocence, asked RTÉ not to broadcast the interview and volunteered to
undergo a paternity test.

Prime Time duly broadcast the programme accusing Fr. Reynolds of raping a minor named Veneranda while he was a missionary in Kenya and fathering a child named Sheila as a result of this rape.

He was also accused of secretly providing funds to Sheila.

Both Veneranda and Sheila were interviewed in the programme to corroborate the allegations.

As a result Fr. Kevin Reynolds was obliged to stand down from ministry and was removed as the parish priest of Ahascragh. He had to leave his home and his parish.

He was compelled by the actions of RTÉ to institute High Court defamation proceedings to vindicate his good name and reputation.

RTÉ acknowledges that the material in the programme concerning Fr. Reynolds ought never to have been broadcast.

RTÉ now fully and unreservedly accepts that the allegations made by Prime Time against Fr. Kevin Reynolds are baseless, without any foundation whatever and untrue and that Fr. Reynolds is a priest of the utmost integrity who has had an unblemished 40 year career in the priesthood and who has made a valuable contribution to society in Kenya and Ireland both in education and in ministry.

RTÉ acknowledges the defamation has had a devastating effect on Fr. Kevin Reynolds, his family, his peers, his parishioners in Ahascragh, those in the diocese of Kakamega in Kenya who were aware of the allegations and all those who know him or of him.

RTÉ fully and unreservedly apologises to Fr. Kevin Reynolds for this defamation and deeply regrets the serious consequences suffered by him. He was entirely innocent of the allegations broadcast about him.

Update 21:00 (Greenwich time)

An action for defamation against RTÉ by Galway priest Fr Kevin Reynolds is to begin in the High Court on 15 November.

RTÉ apologised to Fr Reynolds last week for defaming him in a Prime Time Investigates programme on 23 May by accusing him of raping a woman and fathering her child while working as a missionary in Kenya.

In its apology, RTÉ said he was entirely innocent of the allegations.

Fr Reynolds had been forced to step aside as parish priest of Ahascragh in Co Galway but was reinstated last Sunday.

He is proceeding with his action against RTÉ, which will begin next month.

(Source: RTÉ)

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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10 Responses to RTE apologises to Priest wrongly accused of abuse (important update: An action for defamation against RTÉ by a Galway priest is to begin in the High Court on 15 November)

  1. Jacquelyn Taylor Baumberg says:

    What about financial compensation to the defamed priest by the TV network?
    What about an equal time broadcast on RTE in which the priest is interviewed again with a verbal apology, and the network’s shoddy practices are fully exposed by a third party?

    Like

  2. toadspittle says:

    .

    Very interesting story.
    Toad will be happy to elaborate on some journalistic points if anyone cares – but for now will content himself with urging that Father Reynolds sue the RTE for every Euro they possess, if he is not already in the process of doing so.
    If he doesn’t, we might ask why.

    Like

  3. kathleen says:

    Unfortunately this is not the first nor last time unscrupulous individuals, tempted by the huge compensation benefits paid out by the Church to victims of clerical abuse, have not falsely accused totally innocent priests (or nuns) of these crimes. I read in one report from America some time ago that in fact most of the accusations were discovered afterwards to be totally false, and of the remaining cases, many were dubious.

    The long lasting suffering and anguish these poor innocent priests are subjected to by being targeted in this way is truly criminal.

    Like

  4. toadspittle says:

    .

    “I read in one report from America some time ago that in fact most of the accusations were discovered afterwards to be totally false, and of the remaining cases, many were dubious.”

    Says Kathleen, clearly distressed at the enormity of it, as are we all..

    Indeed, with this in mind, it’s hard to know what all the media fuss is about, is it not?

    The obvious answer is to assume that it’s all a total pack of lies, and make it illegal for any media outlet to ever print, or broadcast, any word uncomplimentary to Catholicism and its proponents. Or else.
    .

    Her old chum Franco did just that. And it worked.

    Leave a Repl

    Enter your comment here…

    Like

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    toad, on what factual basis, exactly, are you questioning Kathleen’s comments, and btw in such a snide manner ?

    If you read the various in-depth reports that have come out in recent years, one of the things that they all have in common is that they show that the numbers of false accusations greatly outnumber the true ones.

    Like

  6. toadspittle says:

    .

    “toad, on what factual basis, exactly, are you questioning Kathleen’s comments, and btw in such a snide manner ?”

    On exactly the same basis as Kathleen’s original statement, Jabba.

    Hearsay and speculation.

    Works for us!

    Like

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    Kathleen’s comments are, I imagine, based on the same sources of case analysis that I have seen, which is to say on factual data.

    I’m glad at least that you admit that your own comments are based on nothing more solid than “hearsay and speculation”.

    Like

  8. kathleen says:

    Thanks for defending me Jabba :-)….. but I sort of knew I’d get a sort of “boxing of the ears” from our Toad for daring to defend innocent priests who are falsely accused of sexual abuse.

    Toad:
    I said, “I read in one report from America some time ago that in fact most of the accusations were discovered afterwards to be totally false, and of the remaining cases, many were dubious.”
    That infers that some of the remaining cases were real cases of abuse. Not one of us would defend a paedophile or rapist no matter what type of collar he might wear. That does not take away any indignation or ‘distress’ (as you put it) that I or others might feel for the innocent victims of unscrupulous accusers of such vile crimes.

    Like

  9. toadspittle says:

    .
    …but I sort of knew I’d get a sort of “boxing of the ears” from our Toad for daring to defend innocent priests who are falsely accused of sexual abuse.

    Fie, Kathleen! Do you really think Toad would attack you for defending the innocent?

    Like

  10. Marion says:

    re: toadspittle
    “I read in one report from America some time ago that in fact most of the accusations were discovered afterwards to be totally false, and of the remaining cases, many were dubious.”
    I would love you to name this report!!! My experience is totally at variance I have taken statements from several hundreds of former residents of institutional care homes run by the religous orders in ireland who were victims of sexual and physical abuse. I am always shocked by how these people who mostly moved abroad to england, america and australia and who had no contact with each other since they were in care together, all give very very similar statements about specific institutions at specific times. Very rarely have I come across a victim who appeared to lack credibility, I would say less than 3 per cent give details that do not fit with the hundreds of other statements. I am not anti catholic or anti priests, I am a Christian but there is overwhelming evidence of endemic sexual abuse within the clergy which cannot be ignored, read the Ryan Report. Look up the statistics on how many children DIED in the institution in Letterfrack, well over one hundred is conservative. The most difficult things for victims of abuse is to come forward as many of them feel like they carry the shame of their abuser and that is way when I read your comment I simply had to respond. Lives have been destroyed, more than ninety per cent of the people I talk to have grave self harming issues. Some have cut themselves with blades, burned themselves, starved themselves, turned to alcohol abuse and drug abuse and I speak to many who have attempted suicide and many have died from all of the aforementioned. Please please educate yourself fully. A DNA test showed that the priest involved was not the father of a child, let us not get too carried away and throw mountains of very credible evidence to one side and fail to address it because one DNA test showed that one priest did not father one child. When the Catholic church faces up squarely to it’s past and repents of it we can all move on and then this “open season” on the catholic church will end but whilst earlier this year victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have accused the pope, the Vatican secretary of state and two other high-ranking Holy See officials of crimes against humanity, in a formal complaint to the international criminal court (ICC) I respectfully submit humility is what is called for.

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