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Former teacher and coach John McClean sentenced to an 8-year prison term for sexually abusing pupils between 1973 and 1990

On Thursday, 18 February 2021, John McClean (76) from Casimir Avenue, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment with the final three years suspended, after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting 23 pupils between 1973 and 1990 in Terenure College, as reported by The Irish Times. The victims were aged between 12 and 17 at the time.

McClean was a former rugby coach and school teacher at Terenure College. He taught English in the prestigious South Dublin private school between 1966 to 1996. 


After hearing the evidence and the 23 victim impact statements, Judge Pauline Codd gave the former teacher an 11 year prison sentence with the final three years suspended.

Judge Codd said the sexual assault of a child was “morally reprehensible” and the sexual assault inflicted upon the survivors “all involved significant abuse of power,” as reported by The Irish Times

The Judge added that McClean had “acted with impunity” and showed “mind blowing and brazen arrogance” for 17 years in the exploitation of his position as a teacher and sports coach. She described his actions as an “egregious breach of trust”, reads RTE.

Judge Codd praised the victims for their “immense courage and strength” they had to summon to come forward after decades of shame, helplessness and loss of trust. She said they had “found their voices” and recognised that their voices were not acknowledged in the “cultural and educational climate” of the time.

Judge Codd said that McClean was preying on the children’s “psychological vulnerabilities” when he gave them malicious ‘punishment’ ultimatums to choose between.  Judge Codd noted that “The effects of sexual abuse have cast a shadow over the adult lives of those affected,” reads the Irish Examiner.

The Irish Times reported that An Garda Síochána is currently investigating further complaints as more victims are coming forward in relation to this matter.

Following the criminal case conclusion, seven civil cases were lodged into the High Court for abuse concerning McClean, listing Terenure College and Carmelite Order as co-defendants. 

Coleman Legal is one of the law firms who are representing clients who have come forward to take a civil case concerning sexual assault by McClean.

Dave Coleman of Coleman Legal, said the school and the Carmelite Order could face €2 million in damages from the civil cases already lodged, as reported by The Irish Times.

The principal of Terenure, Fr Éanna Ó hÓbáin and Provincial of the Carmelite Order in Ireland, Fr Michael Troy said they are deeply sorry and apologise unreservedly to the former pupils who were abused as young students and acknowledged the failure in their duty to protect the schoolboys, reads the Independent

Both Terenure College and the Carmelite Order said they intend to fully cooperate with gardaí and all relevant authorities in child protection matters.

How can we help?

Coleman Legal is taking High Court actions on behalf of victims of sexual abuse cases. Coleman Legal specialise in the area of sexual abuse law, acting on behalf of the survivors. Cases of this nature are civil actions which seek monetary compensation for the pain and suffering inflicted upon the complainants as a result of the abuse.

Monetary compensation is achieved through civil proceedings, and it is a different process to criminal proceedings handled by the Director of Public Prosecutions and An Garda Siochana.

Coleman Legal fully understands and appreciates that any form of abuse is extremely distressing. We deal with each case on a personal, one-to-one basis with compassion, empathy and understanding. 

Our dedicated team has extensive experience with claims relating to Sexual Abuse and Harassment. If you have experienced sexual abuse perpetrated by John McClean during his tenure in Terenure College or have experienced abuse in similar circumstances, please contact Ciara Redmond either by email or freephone us on 1800 844 104.

Ciara Redmond

Senior Solicitor
(Sexual Abuse Team)

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84 Talbot Street, Dublin 1

D01 YX60

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