Sex abuse priest unmasked by court

Fr Terry Rafferty. LM0409-186gc
Fr Terry Rafferty. LM0409-186gc

THE anonymity of a former Lurgan priest who was convicted of indecently assaulting a young girl in the County Armagh area has been lifted. He has been named as Fr Terence Rafferty.

A former Administrator at Newry Cathedral, Fr Rafferty, whose address was given as Chestnut Grove, Newry, was convicted at Craigavon Crown Court on Monday of four counts of indecent assault relating to offences in 2001.

Sitting before Judge Patrick Lynch, five other offences of indecent assault between December 2000 and January 2002 were left on the books.

The victim was a minor at the time.

Details of the case were only released last Thursday after a court ban protecting the 50-year-old priest’s identity was lifted.

This followed a request from the victim.

Fr Rafferty, who served at St Peter’s and was also Parish Priest of Donaghmore, is due to be sentenced on January 18 at Craigavon Crown Court.

There had been a legal wrangle earlier last week after the Lord Chief Justice’s Office said the anonymity given to the Catholic priest would be reviewed.

The judiciary had declined to explain why his identity had been protected to date.

Victims’ groups criticised the protection he enjoyed, claiming the public needed to be protected.

Fr Rafferty was suspended over sexual abuse claims last year.

A statement from the Bishop of Dromore Dr John McAreavey said: “In April 2011 an allegation was reported to the diocese of Dromore, which raised safeguarding concerns in relation to a priest in this Diocese.

“The allegation was reported promptly to the PSNI, social services and the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland. In accordance with Church safeguarding policy, the priest concerned was suspended from exercising his ministry during the investigation.

“This week the priest admitted four counts of indecent assault and he is due to be sentenced early next year.

“The safety of children is of paramount importance to the diocese of Dromore. For this reason the diocese continues to work with the civil authorities to promote the safety of children and young people. Should any person have any safeguarding concerns they should not hesitate to contact the diocesan designated person, Patricia Carville, or the PSNI or social services.

“My prayers are with all who are suffering at this distressing time,” said the Bishop.