[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Priest who adored rapist friend
By Mike McKimm
BBC Northern Ireland

Father Jeremiah McGrath
Father Jeremiah McGrath was told he faced a jail term
A parish priest from County Kerry, Father Jeremiah McGrath, has been jailed for five years in Liverpool for arranging and facilitating the rape of a young girl in 2005.

William Adams, from Belfast, pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping the 12-year-old girl in England.

It was his third paedophile conviction and the judge gave him seven and a half years.

Father McGrath, first met William Adams in a hostel for the homeless in Dublin in 1988.

The two men developed a sexual relationship.

McGrath told the court he was "besotted" by Adams and loved him.

"I don't think he loved me", McGrath told the court in Liverpool.

William Adams
Adams lavished presents, entertainment and food on her. But every night for three nights, the girl told the police, he raped her
At this stage Adams had already been to jail in the Republic for abusing a young girl and had admitted as much to the priest.

A year after they met, McGrath moved away from Dublin to begin parish work elsewhere. In the meantime, Adams raped an eight-year-old girl in the Republic and went on the run.

The priest gave Adams money to allow him travel to Scotland to avoid arrest.

But Adams was arrested and received a 12-year-sentence for the rape.

When he got out of prison after just six years, Adams moved to Bootle near Liverpool and with financial help from McGrath rented a flat.

'Predatory paedophile'

Described in court as a "predatory paedophile", William Adams was soon on the prowl again for a new victim.

In 2005, he made contact with a Liverpool family with two children.

It was the perfect target.

The girl's parents had split up. The mother was an alcoholic. The family was described as "dysfunctional".

Adams befriended them - using the name Adamson.

Soon he was plying the young girl with presents, including a mobile phone.

He would use this to contact the girl behind the family's back and lure her away.

Father Jeremiah McGrath
McGrath certainly knew Adams was a twice convicted paedophile. But even when the girl's family confronted Father McGrath with Adams' real history, he still denied it

Before long, Adams had taken the girl to his Bootle flat and raped her. At the same time he paid for her gifts, clothes, meals and hair styling.

But he also threatened her.

The girl told the court by video link: "He said he would batter me... I was scared in case he battered me."

At the time William Adams was unemployed and receiving social security.

Yet, despite his apparent lack of wealth, he took the girl with him to Blackpool for her 12th birthday.

Adams lavished presents, entertainment and food on her. But every night for three nights, the girl told the police, Adams raped her.

Adams took the girl back to Blackpool, along with her mother and young brother, for a three-week holiday to Blackpool. Father McGrath would eventually join them.

He could do no wrong in my eyes
Fr Jeremiah McGrath
Talking about William Adams
To most people it looked like a family unit; Adams as the father of the girl and McGrath as Adams's uncle. But there was absolutely no family relationship between the three.

Yet the hotel would set a place card on the dinner table inscribed, "The Adamson family".

They believed William Adams was the young girl's father and that the priest was Adams's uncle. McGrath never challenged this. He never spoke out when Adams claimed the girl was his daughter.

The priest just told the court, "I didn't tell anybody I wasn't his uncle". Yet he had admitted he already knew Adams background as a paedophile.

The Adamson Family

And why the name tag - The Adamson Family? Didn't he wonder what this was all about?

"It didn't matter to me what the name was", McGrath told the court.

"Didn't you wonder why he (Adams) wasn't using his own name?"

"It didn't matter to me".

"You sent him mail in that name."

"Because he asked me to," replied McGrath

If he was unemployed, where did Adams get all the money from to groom the girl? Witnesses told of money being spent like it was going out of fashion

"You didn't say a word to anyone?" McGrath was asked in court.

He answered "No".

"Didn't you think you had a responsibility to warn the family about the sort of person Billy Adams was?"

"No".

If he was unemployed, where did Adams get all the money from to groom the girl? Witnesses told of money being spent like it was going out of fashion.

Fr McGrath
McGrath certainly knew Adams was a twice-convicted paedophile. But even when the girl's family confronted him with Adams' real history, he still denied it
Month after month, regular sums of 3,000 were placed in a joint account set up by the two men. McGrath insisted the money was from Adams winning at the bookies. But it was claimed in court he had given Adams more than 23,000 over eight months.

McGrath certainly knew Adams was a twice-convicted paedophile.

But even when the girl's family confronted Father McGrath with Adams' real history, he still denied it.

And he did nothing to prevent William Adams from seeing the girl again, even though social services by now had warned Adams off contacting the girl.

Instead, McGrath paid the rent of the flats in Blackpool that Adams would use.

Eventually in late November 2005, the girl told a family friend what Adams had done to her and Adams was arrested and charged with raping her. He eventually pleaded guilty to raping and assaulting the girl.

After searching McGrath's house, police found a character reference McGrath had written to a judge. It was for William Adams who was due in court on a drink driving charge.

The letter read: "As a Catholic priest and uncle of William..." But McGrath wasn't William Adams' uncle.

He admitted in court: "I shouldn't have done it. It wasn't true."

"It was a deliberate lie, Father McGrath, wasn't it?", insisted the prosecution.

Rosslea parochial house
McGrath was parish priest in Rosslea, County Fermanagh
"I know it's a lie but I didn't do it deliberately."

McGrath claimed he was blind to what was really happening.

"I knew the nature of the allegation but he claimed he didn't do it," McGrath had already told the court. "He could do no wrong in my eyes."

"The tragedy of that, Father McGrath, is that Billy Adams was able to corrupt this child under your nose," said the prosecution

After being arrested, Adams had written to McGrath to ask the priest to help him make bail. McGrath had written a reply.

"You know me. Anything that is possible I'll do it... it was a very difficult time. We gave it our best shot. At least it was a good year, 2005 and please God next year will be just as good... thanks for everything you did for me."

"God didn't have much to do with this," observed the prosecution. McGrath has been suspended by the Catholic church until they can decide his future.




SEE ALSO
Priest sentenced for aiding rape
14 Jun 07 |  Northern Ireland
Priest guilty of funding grooming
25 May 07 |  Merseyside
Priest 'abuse' case jury retires
24 May 07 |  Merseyside
Priest 'unaware' of child abuse
21 May 07 |  Merseyside
Priest 'was gambler not abuser'
16 May 07 |  Merseyside
Priest 'paid for girl's grooming'
15 May 07 |  Merseyside
Priest denies abusing young girl
10 Apr 06 |  Merseyside
Priest in child abuse court case
21 Dec 05 |  Merseyside

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific