Ex-priest sexually abused child during her first Confession

A former priest in Ireland has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a seven-year-old girl during her first Confession.

John Calnan, 76, was sentenced in Cork to three years in jail, with the final year suspended.

He had pleaded guilty to the offending which happened in 1989.

Police told the court the girl was preparing for her First Holy Communion and Calnan was invited to her school to hear first confessions.

The confessions were being held in a kitchenette area and as Calnan began hearing the girl’s first Confession, he sexually assaulted her.

When the little girl finished her Confession, Calnan rearranged her clothing and gave her absolution and penance and told her that she could leave the kitchenette, police said.

A native of Rossmore near Clonakilty, Calnan, who had served mainly in parishes in West Cork in the Diocese of Cork and Ross, has a number of previous such convictions.

He had pleaded guilty in 2012 at the Central Criminal Court to attempted rape and three counts of indecent assault of a girl and one count of indecent assault of a boy.

He received eight years in jail for that offence, and in February 2015 he pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to one count of indecent assault of a young girl.

Calnan was stood down from ministry in 1992 when the first complaint was made about him.

He spent a year receiving treatment at the Gracewell Clinic in Birmingham.

In a victim impact statement read on her behalf, the complainant spoke of how Calnan’s abuse had impacted on her, but also on her parents, her husband and her children.

“When brought to the attention of the school, my family were met with denial and a feeling of guilt and shame was inflicted on them,” she said.

“There were thinly veiled warnings about speaking out and how they would be thought of within the local community.”

Defence counsel said Calnan was deeply remorseful.


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