Priest on Call, Love thy Neighbour?

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Irish priest denies raping woman in England 35 years ago after calling to her house hoping to ‘make love’

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May 21 2021 04:49 PM


An Irish priest accused of raping a woman in England in 1986 told a jury he went to her house to see if she would “make love” with him and said “we never claim to be perfect”.

Retired John Anthony Clohosey (72), who presided over churches across North East England, denies rape and told Newcastle Crown Court that he kissed and cuddled with the complainant on her bed.

Jurors have heard his accuser, who cannot be identified, asked the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle for help to pay a legal bill and grew angry when she was turned down as the Catholic Church had paid out money to victims of sexual abuse.

She said in an email she herself had been abused by a serving priest years before, the court heard.

And she later told police she was raped in her own home by Clohosey after he had asked her to have sex with him several times, the court heard.

Clohosey, who was repeatedly reminded to keep his voice up, gave evidence from the witness box in his defence.

One of five brothers, he grew up in Kilkennyattended an all-boys’ school and went to a seminary from the age of 18, before he was ordained at 24 and then moved to a church in Heaton, Newcastle.

He told Robin Patton, defending, he was happy to agree to a vow of celibacy at that age.

But he said the purpose of his visit to the woman’s home in 1986 was “friendship I suppose, and to see if she would like to make love to us”.

Clohosey was asked how that reconciled with his vow of celibacy and replied: “Human failings… we never claim to be perfect.”

The defendant said during the visit he asked her to “make love” and she had said no more than once before she agreed, “jumped up” and she went to her bedroom, where he followed some minutes later, the court heard.

She was partially clothed and he lay on top of her, the priest told the court, but he claimed there was no penetrative sex and he did not have an erection.

Clohosey said he felt “deflated” after the event and got dressed.

Asked how he would have felt about the vows he had taken, the defendant replied: “I’m sure I felt guilty about what I had done.”

The priest said he called round a second time some weeks later – which the complainant disputes – and asked again if they could have sex, which she declined, the court heard.

In cross-examination Clohosey, whose last parish was in Crook, County Durham, and who now lives at St Mary’s Priory, Filey, North Yorkshire, said this had been his first sexual encounter, but not his last.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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