Notorious defrocked Wicklow priest Denis Nolan pleads guilty to raping schoolboy
Nolan raped the boy in a car as well as across the table of the parochial house. During one rape, the child described seeing a picture of Jesus in the room
16th November 2022
A convicted child abuser began abusing a schoolboy three years after arriving in the boy’s parish and went on to abuse two more boys over the next 13 years, a court has heard.
Defrocked priest Denis Nolan (70) formerly of The Presbytery, Rathnew, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of anal rape, one of oral rape and five of sexual assault of the school boy on dates between January 2001 and December 2005.
Nolan was the curate in Rathnew from 1998 to 2012, having been ordained in 1979. He was on the board of management at the local school, which the victim attended.
The child was aged 12 when Nolan invited him to earn some money by doing gardening jobs at the parochial house. Nolan would pay him amounts from €15 to €100 but after a number of weeks Nolan began asking him about sex and then molesting and groping the boy.
Nolan would tell the boy that “it was ok and all part of growing up” and would tell him he could earn more money for the sexual acts. When the boy was aged 14, Nolan pushed him face down on a bed in the presbytery and raped him.
Paul Murray SC, prosecuting told the court that pain was horrendous and the child was crying and begging Nolan to stop but Nolan continued for up to 30 minutes. The boy went home after and showered, feeling sick, dirty and violated.
In another incident, the priest gave the child a number of beers and the child woke up later on the couch naked from waist down and feeling sore. Nolan told him “do you want it again” and the child felt confused and disgusted.
Nolan raped the boy in a car as well as across the table of the parochial house. During one rape, the child described seeing a picture of Jesus in the room.
Nolan would give the boy money after each rape, sometimes as much as €100 and he repeatedly linked the abuse to payments before each attack. The court heard Nolan sexually assaulted him more than 15 times between 2005 and 2006 by performing oral sex on the child in the presbytery.
In his victim impact report, read out by Mr Murray, the man told the court that Nolan had groomed him and robbed him of a normal childhood.
He said he struggles to hold down a job because of mental health difficulties resulting from the abuse at the hands of “this monster”. He said he turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with the trauma of abuse and lost many years of his life.
Detective Garda James McDonagh told the court that when questioned Nolan initially denied all the allegations. He entered a guilty plea last month shortly before a trial was due to get on.
In 2014, Nolan was jailed for seven years for systematically sexually abusing a boy in Co Wicklow over a five year period beginning in 2009 when the boy was 12.
Three years later, Nolan received a prison term of six years for rape and sexual abuse of another young boy, this time in the years 2006 to 2012. The abuse on the third victim means he was abusing boys for a period of 13 years, from 2001.
Justin McQuade BL, defending, said his client had instructed him to issue a public apology to the victim and his family.
“He has asked me to extend that apology to the entire community of Rathnew whose trust he breached in the most egregious manner and accepts that it was a complete and utter betrayal of everything he stood for while working in that community,” counsel said.
He said that his client grew up in a home where alcohol and corporal punishment were both features. He left the family home at 19 and joined a seminary and was ordained eight years later.
He said while in custody Nolan has engaged with a sex offender treatment programme and has expressed remorse during counselling.
“Therapy has begun as has his recognition that what he has done in the past was wrong. He recognises these are very serious offences and he is guilty of egregious breach of trust and betrayal,” counsel said.
The sentence hearing had to be stopped at one point when the victim became emotional and Justice Karen O’Connor offered him a glass of water and a break. She later told the man he should be proud of himself for finding the strength to come forward about the “horrific abuse” he suffered at the hands of “a powerful person who took advantage of a child”.
“Your courage will encourage others to speak out and come forward,” she said. The man thanked the judge for her comments. The judge adjourned the case to December 2 for finalisation