06Oct RTE Apology to Kevin Reynolds

On the evening of the 23rd May 2011, RTÉ broadcast a Prime Time Investigates programme entitled “A Mission to Prey”.

Before this broadcast Prime Time conducted an interview with Fr. Kevin Reynolds, the then parish priest at Ahascragh in Galway.

This interview took place beside the parochial house
after the annual First Holy Communion Mass.

During this interview allegations were made against Fr. Reynolds. He immediately protested his innocence and denied all the allegations.

Between the interview and the broadcast, Fr. Kevin Reynolds, through his Solicitors, repeated his protestations of innocence, asked RTÉ not to broadcast the interview and volunteered to
undergo a paternity test.

Prime Time duly broadcast the programme accusing Fr. Reynolds of raping a minor named Veneranda while he was a missionary in Kenya and fathering a child named Sheila as a result of this rape.

He was also accused of secretly providing funds to Sheila.

Both Veneranda and Sheila were interviewed in the programme to corroborate the allegations.

As a result Fr. Kevin Reynolds was obliged to stand down from ministry and was removed as the parish priest of Ahascragh. He had to leave his home and his parish.

He was compelled by the actions of RTÉ to institute High Court defamation proceedings to vindicate his good name and reputation.

RTÉ acknowledges that the material in the programme concerning Fr. Reynolds ought never to have been broadcast.

RTÉ now fully and unreservedly accepts that the allegations made by Prime Time against Fr. Kevin Reynolds are baseless, without any foundation whatever and untrue and that Fr. Reynolds is a priest of the utmost integrity who has had an unblemished 40 year career in the priesthood and who has made a valuable contribution to society in Kenya and Ireland both in education and in ministry.

RTÉ acknowledges the defamation has had a devastating effect on Fr. Kevin Reynolds, his family, his peers, his parishioners in Ahascragh, those in the diocese of Kakamega in Kenya who were aware of the allegations and all those who know him or of him.

RTÉ fully and unreservedly apologises to Fr. Kevin Reynolds for this defamation and deeply regrets the serious consequences suffered by him. He was entirely innocent of the allegations broadcast about him.

15 Responses

  1. Martin

    I think Veneranda and Sheila have a bit of explaining to do. Criminal prosecutions should be brought against them if they wilfully made false allegations, for that would be a crime and a grave sin.

  2. Rory Connor

    This is a brilliant result for Father Reynolds (and congrats to the Association as well). I hope it will be a turning point in the saga of allegations against priests and religious made decades after the alleged events. However there were possible turning points before – notably the case of Nora Wall for example – that changed nothing in the end.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nora_Wall

    Apart from RTE, there is the issue of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter who seems to believe that priests are guilty until proven innocent (if even then). The following is from a Wikipedia article called “Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal in Ireland”.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_sexual_abuse_scandal_in_Ireland

    “Alan Shatter, the Irish Minister for Justice and Equality, commented about the RTE programme that he had: “.. a sense of revulsion at the unspeakable catalogue of abuse against children. While the behaviour took place abroad, we have a solemn duty to do all that is within our power to ensure that perpetrators of this predatory abuse of children are brought to justice wherever it takes place”.[35] Irish criminal law allows for the prosecution in Ireland of sex offences committed abroad under the 1996 Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Act.[36]”

  3. Bernadette

    This is an extraordinary case – an injustice that must ring bells of horror and fear for every priest in the country. One can only imagine what Fr Kevin, his family and his parishioners must have experienced since this programme was broadcast. In the present climate can there be anything more damaging in Ireland than to claim a priest raped a minor and fathered a child with her?
    Expecting our national broadcaster to have verified its facts before making such a claim is the least we should expect as viewers. Apologies are important – in this case essential- but can they ever compensate Fr Kevin for the enormous injustice he has suffered ?
    Well done to this Association for standing by him. After 40 years of unblemished service to the church surely it was the least he could expect from his colleagues and his church. It leaves me wondering were you not there for him in his hour of need would he forever have been left ‘stepped down from ministry and removed from his home and parish’?

  4. Margaret Lee

    We need to remember that if Fr. Kevin Reynolds was in the brave new world of Bishop O’Malley’s Boston, his name would be published as someone who had an allegation made against him.

    Margaret

  5. Mícheál

    Just because some priests were guilty of abuse towards others, it is not right to destroy an innocent man, as RTE has done.
    An apology is not good enough.
    The people behind this programme deserve to lose their jobs at the very least.
    I do not know Father Kevin Reynolds but I hope his parishioners treat him with the utmost respect and make him feel very special.
    The people who made those false accusations will feel God’s anger and I sincerely hope they suffer.

  6. Trish

    What an horrific story. That poor man.

  7. Nchoroge wa- Kenya.

    RTE a national Broadcast to come up with such sensational malicious, ill -researched, cooked, fake information about a Missionary Priest who has dedicated his entire life to serve the people of God in Kenya, is trully shameful.

    They should not only apologise to Fr Kevin but must do so to the Mill Hill Missionary society to which Fr Kevin belongs, the Catholic Church in Ireland and his family, friends and the parishes he served as a whole. The pain and injury caused is unimaginable!!

    Ireland which prides itself as God’s Own country, and whose sons and daughters have over the years, spread the Gospel with fervour and dedication, both near and to far off places, is in danger of losing its soul if it continues to listen and take as truth such sensationalistic broadcasts. Of course needless to say that, where genuine abuse cases have occurred, zero tolerance must be sustained but only after due court process has taken place.

    Fr Kevin hold your head high!! Thanks for standing up to the RTE and like minded broadcasts. The hypocrisy has been exposed. Sad that this had to be court led, instead of RTE recognising their own mistakes in apriori. Had you not taken such steps with courage this would have been a gospel truth for many. It is therefore entirely possible that other similar cases aired by the same RTE may be doubtful!!

  8. Michael

    Thank God Fr Reynolds had the courage to fight this and expose a shoddy piece of research by our national broadcaster. It seems that in this day and age a priest can be accused of the most horrendous crimes and he is guilty until proven innocent. Shame on RTE and everyone involved in making that programme. Shame on Veneranda and Sheila. I hope that they face criminal charges for lying and destroying a man’s reputation. And shame on most of our national newspapers who didn’t think the grovelling apology from RTE was worth a mention the following day.
    Just as victims of abuse have been compensated (and rightly so), who will compensate Fr Kevin for the hurt he has been caused?

  9. jo

    Enough talk; time for some spirited action!

    In solidarity with Fr Reynolds

    let us Catholics refuse to pay the licence fee until the RTE mangement resign.

    They can’t take us all to court.

  10. Eddie Finnegan

    Agree with Jo. Isn’t it time we had a Taoiseach’s Statement in the Dáil on RTE’s dysfunction, disconnection, elitism, narcissism and cover-up in defence of Prime Time’s dogmatism? And isn’t it time their pathetic apology got full coverage in the Irish Times, preferably under the by-line of that paper’s Religious Affairs Correspondent, with an additional half-page Opinion & Analysis piece by Patsy McGarry and an Editorial on the facing page? Not just the perfunctory and anonymous mention the apology got in Friday’s online ‘breaking news’ version.

  11. Noel Fitzpatrick

    I am delighted that Fr Reynolds has been vindicated. However I do hope his legal action against RTE will be pursued, as it is vital that the message is made clearly that priests cannot be defamed with impunity.

  12. jo

    Silence from Patsy Mc Garry – surely not?

  13. jo

    I have written to Mr Shatter, will copy all response

    Dear Minister

    After RTÉ broadcast a programme entitled “A Mission to Prey” 23rd May 2011, it was reported:

    “Alan Shatter, the Irish Minister for Justice and Equality, commented about the RTE programme that he had: “.. a sense of revulsion at the unspeakable catalogue of abuse against children. While the behaviour took place abroad, we have a solemn duty to do all that is within our power to ensure that perpetrators of this predatory abuse of children are brought to justice wherever it takes place”.[35] Irish criminal law allows for the prosecution in Ireland of sex offences committed abroad under the 1996 Sexual Offences (Jurisdiction) Act.[36]“

    Can you now release a similar statement regarding this abuse of power by RTE and the ruining of a Priest’s reputation, health and career?

    Will you apologise personally to Fr Reynolds, his order, parish and Irish Catholics?

    As Minister for Justice and Equality you didn’t afford this priest much of either before you took to the airwaves.

    I look forward to your response

    Kind regards

    Jo Bailey

    Dublin 6

  14. Fr Seán Coyle

    Thanks to the ACP for standing with Father Reynolds in a very practical way.

  15. Tom Cox

    Re silence of Patsy McGarry
    I see that he has penned a piece called “the terrible predicament of the falsely accused priest.” It’s a syndicated column, so hopefully will get much more coverage than the “midland tribune” that I read it in.


Scroll Up