The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009
For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790
Ex Baton Rouge priest forced to resign over abuse case
Long time cleric is the center of huge controversy in Ireland
A Catholic priest who worked in Baton Rouge was forced to resign his post in Ireland last week over a controversial clergy sex abuse case.
Fr. Seán Sheehy told an Irish criminal court last week that a man who had just been convicted of sexually assaulting a 22 year old woman did “not an abusive bone in his body,” according to the Irish Independent.
He shook the predator’s hand in court and offered his support. The priest told reporters he’d do it again.
Sheehy was harshly criticized by abuse and rape victims and their supporters, in nearly 100 articles in Irish news outlets.
“If this priest is so callous, I hope that no abuse victim or concerned Catholic or victim’s mom ever approached him in Baton Rouge," said David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org), a national support group for victims of pedophile priests.
Bishop Bill Murphy of Kerry accepted Sheehy’s resignation from his Castlegregory parish, which took effect Friday the 18th of December.
According to one news account, “While a native of Kerry, Fr Sheehy has spent the bulk of his ministry in the United States.”
Irish priest who defended sex criminal steps down
By DONAL THORNTON, IrishCentral.com Staff Writer Published Friday, December 18, 2009, 1:58 PM
An Irish priest who gave a character reference to a sex offender stepped down from his position in a Kerry parish earlier today.
Fr. Seán Sheehy had told the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee that Danny Foley, a nightclub security guard, had “not an abusive bone in his body,” according to the Irish Independent. Foley, 35, has been convicted of assaulting a 22-year-old woman.
On a radio talkshow after the court case Fr. Sheehy said that Foley’s seven year sentence was "extremely harsh," and said he had no regrets about providing the character reference.
The priest was one of about 50 people, mostly older men, who shook hands with and hugged the convicted man before he was brought to the dock, the Independent said.
The Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Center criticized Fr. Sheehy, who testified in court that Foley had the height of respect for women. Bishop Murphy of the Kerry diocese called him to a meeting earlier today, after which the priest offered to withdraw from his work in the parish.
A note on the Kerry diocese website says: “This morning Fr. Seán Sheehy and Bishop Bill Murphy met. In view of recent events Fr. Seán Sheehy offered to withdraw from his work in the parish of Castlegregory.”
The note adds, “The Bishop of Kerry accepted his offer which takes effect from today, Friday the 18th of December.”
Fr Sean Sheehy: profile Friday December 18 2009
Fr Sean Sheehy (67) has been based in Kerry for less than two years. He has been Castlegregory parish priest in the Diocese of Kerry since July 2008 when he was confirmed to the position by Bishop Bill Murphy.
While a native of Kerry, Fr Sheehy has spent the bulk of his ministry in the United States.
However, a chronic shortage of priests in Irish dioceses -- including Kerry -- has prompted many Irish-born priests to return home over recent years.
Fr Sheehy was one of two priests assigned to Kerry parishes 18 months ago on a pro-tem loan basis from their US dioceses.
Fr Sheehy's last posting was in the Diocese of Baton Rouge in Louisiana where locals were heartbroken at his decision to return to Ireland.
Throughout his time in the US, Fr Sheehy maintained close links with Ireland and regularly returned to Kerry on holidays.
Castlegregory locals last night hailed Fr Sheehy as a tireless community worker who had been particularly active in supporting local charity and developmental groups.
While in the US, he was particularly noted for his commitment to education.
Fr Sheehy is also a keen GAA supporter and a lifelong fan of Kerry Gaelic football.
Bishop sympathises with victim of sexual assault
Statement from Bishop of Kerry Bill Murphy
The Bishop of Kerry wishes to disassociate himself and the Diocese from the actions and statements made by Fr. Seán Sheehy in relation to the sentencing of a man convicted of sexual assault.
Fr. Sheehy is retired from an American diocese and is substituting for the Parish Priest of Castlegregory, Fr. Tadhg ó Dochartaigh, who is recuperating from illness.
I wish to offer my sympathy to the victim and to apologise to her on my own behalf and on behalf of the Diocese of Kerry. I pay tribute to her courage. I hope what has happened will not undermine the progress that has been made in bringing perpetrators of sexual abuse to justice.
Fr. Sean Sheehy withdraws from Castlegregory
This morning Fr. Seán Sheehy and Bishop Bill Murphy met. In view of recent events Fr. Seán Sheehy offered to withdraw from his work in the parish of Castlegregory. The Bishop of Kerry accepted his offer which takes effect from today, Friday the 18th of December.
Fr. Seán Sheehy having retired from an American Diocese was substituting for the Parish Priest of Castlegregory
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests