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Irish Priest Jailed For Seven Years For Abusing Young Boys

June 14, 1995

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ His eyes closed, his head bowed, a Roman Catholic priest received a seven-year prison sentence Wednesday for sexually abusing young boys at a cottage where he plied them with drink.

The Rev. Danny Curran, 45, admitted 13 separate charges, nine of them indecent assault against boys. The victims were as young as 9 years old.

Belfast Crown Court Judge Anthony Hart told Curran he had betrayed the trust of parents, his clerical colleagues and the community.

After the sentencing, Monsignor Colm McCaughan, chancellor of Down and Connor diocese, said the church would do everything to help police investigations into sex abuse and promised there would be no cover-ups.

Curran’s abuse, the court heard, lasted from January 1990 and March 1994, when he took boys to his isolated cottage to get them away from the violence of West Belfast, the part of the city most severely affected by sectarian strife.

At the cottage near Tyrella Beach in County Down, the priest allowed the boys to drink large quantities of beer and alcoholic cider while he consumed vodka. Later, as they slept in bed, Curran got in beside them, testimony showed.

Police were called in March 1994 when a boy ran to a neighboring cottage, shaking violently and crying: ``Please do not let him touch me. Please do not let him get me.″

He had been hit on the head with a vodka bottle, bitten on the finger, kicked and drenched with water by the priest.

Other victims said they were too ashamed to report the assaults.

``I never told anyone about it because I thought it would be a sin if I did,″ one boy told police.

Hart said Curran had actively encouraged the boys to drink considerable quantities.

``The offenses were not rare or isolated,″ he said. ``They were carried out in a deliberate, calculated fashion.″

Curran has spent the last 14 months undergoing psychiatric treatment at a church-run facility in England.

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