Jesuits unlikely to be prosecuted over sexual abuse of Limerick students

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The late Fr Joseph Marmion who is the subject of sexual abuse allegations.

GARDAÍ are unlikely to prosecute any members of the Jesuits over the religious order’s handling of historic allegations of child sexual abuse by one of its priests Fr Joseph Marmion.

Garda sources said that enquires into allegations against Marmion of abusing pupils at Belvedere College, Clongowes Wood College and the former Crescent College in Limerick City have also run cold because Marmion died in 2000 at the age of 75.

In 1977 a number of pupils at Belvedere, where Marmion taught from 1969 to1978, made disclosures to senior Jesuits of sexual abuse by Marmion.

The Jesuit Order dealt with the matter in-house, and Marmion was never questioned by the civil authorities.

A Garda spokesman told the Limerick Post that “while it is our intention to effectively deal with all complaints and information received, there will be limitations as to the action we can take in some cases due to matters such as the loss of evidence over time or suspects and/or witnesses being deceased”.

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While not naming any group or individual, the Garda spokesman continued: “It is Garda policy that where it is conclusively established during an investigation that the suspect is deceased, a Superintendent can assess the facts and recommend the matter be closed on the grounds that there can be no question of a prosecution arising.”

He appealed to anyone who wishes to report a crime relating to clerical sexual abuse to email [email protected]

After coming under pressure from some of Marmion’s victims, the Jesuit Order eventually released a statement in March 2021 which named Marmion as a paedophile who had sexually, physically and emotionally abused pupils at Belvedere the 1970s.

The Jesuits stated that when they initially became aware of allegations against Marmion they removed him from the teaching staff at Belvedere.

However, instead of contacting Gardai, the Order placed Marmion “on sabbatical in Paris with the Jesuit Community Saint Francois Xavier”.

He was subsequently assigned to the Gardiner Street Jesuit Community in Dublin, and in 1990 he was appointed Chaplain to St Vincent’s Private Hospital where he would have had regular access to children.

The Jesuit Order said it accepted “these subsequent appointments should not have been made”.

In 2002, they eventually alerted Gardaí about Marmion, 25 years after they were made aware of allegations. However it was too late for Gardaí to question Marmion as he died in 2000.