In the course of a news story entitled, “I DIDN’T KNOW HE WAS A PAEDO” along with the subheadings “Priest told child abuser to see psychiatrist” and “Victim was led to believe that paedophile was fixed”, all relating to the trial of Mr Bartholomew Prendergast, the Sunday World reported on 5 August 2018 that a priest, Canon Brendan Crowley, had referred Mr Prendergast to a psychiatrist. The Diocese of Waterford & Lismore was concerned that the report could potentially be interpreted to suggest that Canon Crowley knew of the latter’s abusive behaviour. While the news report by Patrick O’Connell is wholly factually correct any possible interpretation that Father Crowley had any knowledge of this behaviour is not correct as is clear from his reported statements to that effect.
The diocese wishes to categorically state that Canon Crowley was never informed, nor had any knowledge, of the abuse which the victims endured as children. Canon Crowley, in a signed statement to An Garda Síochána in the course of its investigation, declared that Mr Prendergast, his wife, Patricia, together with Patricia’s parents, came to see him in 1984 to discuss a problem. As the issue was beyond his competence, Canon Crowley referred them to Mr Jim Morrison, psychiatrist with the South Eastern Health board at that time. At no point in the meeting was the issue of child abuse discussed nor was it disclosed that Mr Prendergast was abusing children. Canon Crowley had no knowledge whatsoever that Mr Prendergast posed a threat to children. The issue that was discussed had nothing to do with child abuse.
The Diocese of Waterford & Lismore wishes to avail of this opportunity to convey sincere sympathy to Stephanie Hickey and Stephanie’s Sister Deirdre, as well as to the other unnamed victim, all of whom suffered horrendous abuse perpetrated by Mr Prendergast.
The safeguarding policy of the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore is fully compliant with policies set down by the National board for safeguarding children and the Catholic Church in Ireland. Amongst other standards, this means in practice that all issues of child safeguarding that may arise are reported immediately to the civil authorities.
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Katie Crosby 00353 (0) 86 862 3298