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How cover-up by Spiritans in Ireland led to child abuse in leading Sierra Leone school

Henry Moloney’s activities caused a crisis in Christ the King College in the city of Bo

Fr Henry Moloney was at St Mary’s College in Dublin’s Rathmines between 1969 and 1973. In 2000 he was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for sexually assaulting two boys at St Mary’s during that period and served 15 months. In 2009 he was also convicted of abusing two other boys there at that time, Mark Vincent Healy and the late Paul Daly.

In 1973 he was transferred by the Spiritans to their Christ the King College at Bo in Sierra Leone. It is also an elite school attended by the sons of leaders in that society, many of whose fathers had also attended the college. Among its best-known past pupils are Solomon Berewa, vice-president of Sierra Leone from May 2002 to September 2007; lawyer Charles Margai, attorney general and minister for justice of Sierra Leone in 2018; and Kandeh Yumkella, former United Nations under-secretary general.

Almost immediately following Moloney’s arrival at Christ the King College in 1973 there were problems. He had been appointed boarding school master and taught history and English. In 2012, with the assistance of Mark Vincent Healy, The Irish Times spoke to men who alleged they had been abused by Moloney at the college.

“John” was admitted as a boarder there in 1973, at the age of 11. Speaking from Sierra Leone, he recalled that his family was “very Catholic ... very committed to the church”.


In those early years at Christ the King he was an altar boy and served Masses said by Moloney. The priest would fondle him, sometimes in public, even in class. John had no idea what was going on and, though no other priest did these things to him, he thought Moloney was “being playful”. It was “quite subtle”, he said.

When John was ill and alone in the dormitory, Moloney would abuse him there. The boy did not understand what was going on at the time but recalled how Moloney “at night, very late, he would pick on boys in bed” in the school’s dormitory.

As he got older John realised what was happening “wasn’t correct”. He began to avoid Moloney. The priest complained to John’s father that he was not a good boy.

John’s close friend and former classmate at the school, Sahid, is based in California. Speaking from there, he recalled how Moloney liked to refer to himself as “Hawkeye”, “because he said he could see everything”. Sahid said the boys changed this to “F***eye”, because of “his tampering with boys” there. Soon it was known among the students that Moloney was abusing as many as 10 junior boys but “in those situations it didn’t matter what the boys said,” Sahid said.

This prompted a crisis at the college when senior student boarders took action one night. Graffiti and lewd drawings referring to Moloney and his activities began to appear on walls and buildings around the college campus. It caused a scandal.

John recalled how juniors at the college were “protected by seniors, the senior prefects. They were a bit more mature.” He also remembered not knowing what the graffiti meant. “I didn’t know the meaning of the words. I wasn’t familiar with the language.” The seniors, he said, “were highly respected by the younger boys”.

Moloney’s activities were ‘quite rife ... and well known in the school’, a former pupil said. He didn’t know whether other teachers there knew about Moloney’s activities ‘but it was not a secret among the students’

In the investigation by school authorities about 12 senior boys admitted responsibility. All were expelled. Some were sons of prominent figures in Sierra Leone society. The parents were scandalised by their sons’ behaviour.

Bishop Joseph Henry Ganda of the local diocese, Kenema, was contacted by some parents to mediate and it was agreed the 12 senior boys would be allowed attend the college as day pupils to finish their exams.

John recalled that after the scandal Moloney “stopped for a short time” but soon resumed his old ways at the college.

“Ed” has been in the UK for many years but remembers the 1977 June day when Moloney sat him “inappropriately” on his lap at Christ the King College. He recalled it was an admissions interview and he, then 11, was with his father. The priest noticed that both he and Ed were left-handed so he invited the boy to sit on his lap and write “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. When he began as a boarder at the college the following September, Moloney was Ed’s religion and maths teacher.

There was a maths exam at the end of November and Ed had to go to Moloney’s residence to get his results. There the priest abused him. The same happened to Ed when he got his religion results. He went to Moloney’s residence again and recalled that the priest was “very resentful” about this. “He didn’t like me very much.”

Moloney’s activities were “quite rife ... and well known in the school,” he said. He didn’t know whether other teachers there knew about Moloney’s activities “but it was not a secret among the students”.

“John” recalls how, the year before Moloney left the college in 1978, he was removed from his post as boarding house master – the only contact he had with students afterwards was in the classroom. “With hindsight now I think he was cut off from contact with the students,” John said.

In 1979, Moloney was appointed to Blackrock College in Dublin, where he remained until he took up an appointment at Rockwell College, Co Tipperary, in 1980. He remained there until 1996, when he was removed from ministry and placed under strict supervision. In 2015 he received a four-year prison sentence for abusing a boy at Rockwell.

On March 19th, 2009, he pleaded guilty to abusing Mr Healy and Paul Daly at St Mary’s College Rathmines.

On September 22nd, 2010, just over 18 months after that conviction, he joined the online Catholic Answers Forum blog as an observing member. At the time he was out of ministry and living at the Spiritans’ Kimmage Manor in Dublin in 2011.

In first posting, on October 2nd, 2010, under a heading “Response to the sex abuse situation” he signed himself as Henry Moloney and began: “Hello! My name is known to you ... so this limits what I can say.” He said while he accepted that paedophile priests had betrayed Christ, church, family, friends and innocent victims, he found it unacceptable to describe these priests as “Judases”.

He wrote: “The only Judge is Christ – so beware of taking up such a position on any failings by any Christian be he priest or lay person. We do so at our peril.”

In a second posting, dated October 6th, 2010, Moloney wrote: “The vast majority of child sexual abusers can not be rehabilitated, and they are and will remain a danger to children as long as they live. But, we should not limit those that we condemn to just those who abuse children sexually. We should modify our laws so that those who abuse children physically, mentally or in any other way are also subject to harsh legal punishment.”

A response dated February 19th, 2011, asked: “Is this the Rev Fr Henry F Moloney, CSSp who was our boarding home master at Christ the King College in Bo, Sierra Leone. Can someone help out please”. It was signed “Stipose”, whose identity is known to The Irish Times.

A second post from Stipose, dated February 23rd, 2011, reproduced an Irish Times report of March 20th, 2009, dealing with Moloney’s sentence hearing at the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin the previous day. Stipose continued: “It is proving to be very disturbing: of course he was a prime suspect when we were in school for sexually molesting and abusing boys; that it is now proven, I am finding [it] very hard to deal with this ...”

Moloney’s access to the internet was stopped when his online comments were brought to the attention of Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin by Mark Vincent Healy later in 2011.