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April 12, 2005

Ex-priest who assaulted boys is spared jail

From: Yorkshire Post Today, UK - Apr 12, 2005

A RETIRED Roman Catholic school priest who indecently assaulted two young deaf boys more than 25 years ago was yesterday given a suspended six-month jail sentence. Jane Charnley

Neil Gallanagh, 75, altered his plea to admit patting the naked bottom of a teenager at a swimming baths and to stroking the bottom of a clothed teenager, aged between 12 and 16, in a vestry between 1975 and 1980.

Both victims were pupils of St John's Catholic School for the Deaf, Boston Spa, where Gallanagh was resident chaplain.

The sex offender, who later became parish priest of St Mary's, Horsforth, had denied both charges at a 2003 hearing and also a number of similar charges of assault on four other youngsters, which were yesterday left on file.

Judge Norman Jones QC, sitting at Leeds Crown Court, ordered Gallanagh to be put on the Sex Offender Register for seven years, barred him from unsupervised contact with under-16s and instructed him to pay £1,500 costs.

He said: "You were a priest in the Roman Catholic Church and, more particularly, you were a priest at a school where the pupils were deaf and dumb.

"You were in a position of considerable authority where they were concerned. And you had imposed upon you the trust of looking after them.

"On two occasions you permitted yourself to touch them inappropriately and as reflected in your admissions to this court, with a sexual motivation."

But the judge said that a sentence suspended for two years was more appropriate than jail because of his age, ill-health, the time lapsed and because he had committed the "most minimal of indecent assaults".

The abuser, who underwent a heart bypass last year, may also have his flat and £4,600 per annum pension taken away by the church.

Det Insp Christopher Stones of Bradford's Child and Public Protection unit commented: "Anybody in a position of trust who abuses children is committing a very serious offence."

12 April 2005

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