Disgrace of Priest Jailed for Abusing Girls in Churches; CATHOLIC HIERARCHY FAILED TO ALERT POLICE TO THEIR CHILD MOLESTING CANON

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Byline: DAVID FINLAY

A PRIEST was jailed for six years yesterday for sexually abusing four girls in two Catholic churches.

Canon Joseph Terry, 71, was first confronted with the charges by disgraced Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Roderick Wright, three years ago.

Terry then retired but no complaint was passed to the police.

It was only after it was disclosed that Wright had run off with a divorcee and had fathered an illegitimate child that one of Terry's victims went to the police to tell of her ordeal.

The woman, now aged 41, revealed she had told parish priest Roderick MacDonald and the bishop about Terry in 1994. But she told Wright she did not want to go to the police.

Only after the Wright scandal emerged did she raise her concerns about Church inaction with a relative who revealed she too had been abused by Terry. She then went to the police.

After Terry appeared in court two more victims came forward.

S N P j u s t i c e spokesman Roseanna Cunningham MP condemned the Church's handling of the case.

She said: 'I hope that the lessons learned from this unfortunate case will in future enable the Scottish Catholic Church to deal with matters of this nature in a way that justice can be seen to be served.' Laura Aitken, for Scottish Women's Aid, said it was appalling that the Church put the protection of a priest before the welfare of abused children.

She added: 'It is unacceptable that the Church itself did not go to the police when these allegations where first made, it seems to have forgotten that sexually assaulting children is illegal.' Terry admitted four charges of indecency against four girls, aged between seven and 16, between 1963 and 1971 when he was a parish priest.

Peter Gray, prosecuting, said Terry's first two v i c t i m s were abused when they attended St Mun's Church, in Ballachul-ish, when they were aged between seven and 11. …