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Spiritan Congregation agrees to settlement in Rockwell College sexual abuse claim
Coleman Legal LLP
Jul 27, 2023

The Spiritan Congregation has agreed to settle Derek McCarthy’s (58) sexual abuse claim four years after it was initiated. The settlement was agreed upon at a meeting last week at the Four Courts in Dublin and will also include Mr McCarthy’s legal fees. The claim stems from the abuse Mr McCarthy suffered while he was a student at Rockwell College in Co Tipperary in the 70s.

His abusers, a layperson and three priests, assaulted him dozens of times, with the attacks spanning over more than two years. Mr McCarthy was only 13 years old when the first incident of abuse occurred. One of the priests, his tutor at the time, carried out the abuse under the guise of a “game” during which Mr McCarthy would remove an item of clothing if he answered a question incorrectly. A different priest would have him undress before beating him with a drumstick and forcing him to perform sex acts.

Mr McCarthy was so desperate to avoid returning to school that he intentionally jumped in front of a car near his home in Dublin on one occasion. He finally escaped the abuse when he left school one night and hitchhiked to a payphone to call his father and explain what had been happening.

The school denied Mr McCarthy’s story at the time, accusing the student of being a “sick boy”.

Mr McCarthy has described feeling vindicated by the settlement, although it was not about money for him, merely about being believed. He has also noticed a change in his demeanour following the settlement, feeling that he is a step closer to healing from his trauma. Although he has established a home, family and career in the US, he now returns to Ireland regularly, something he could not do in the decades following his abuse due to these painful childhood memories.

Mr McCarthy is only one of over 400 victims who have made allegations of sexual abuse against the Spiritan priests, the majority of these assaults took place at schools. The Spiritans have declined to comment on this claim.

Keith Rolls Partner Coleman Legal LLP

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