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Dromore Diocese knew of Canon Brown allegations for weeks.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Dromore Diocese knew of Canon Brown allegations for weeks. thumbnailCANON Francis Brown.

CANON Francis Brown was left in ministry for six weeks by the Diocese of Dromore after it was informed about a serious sexual abuse allegation against him, it has been revealed.

The allegation relates to a period when the priest was in St Colman's College.

However, Canon Brown has denied any wrongdoing and previously stated that he is expecting to be back in his role within the diocese "in the near future" after he stood aside while a police investigation takes place.

It is alleged that when the allegation was brought to a member of the diocese, they failed to record basic details despite diocesan child safeguarding protocols requiring them to do so.

The complaint was passed to the diocese's child safeguarding officer, Pat Carville, who informed the police immediately.

However, Ms Carville was only able to pass on Canon Brown's name and she could not supply the name of the alleged victim or the name or contact details of the member of the public who made the allegation.

Canon Brown's solicitors said he "categorically asserts that he has never at any time behaved inappropriately to any child or adult".

"Police have not asked to meet with Canon Brown and, if they do make such a request, he will co-operate fully with them in any investigation which they undertake," they added.

"It is expected that Canon Brown will be treated in accordance with due process and that he will not be deprived of the guarantees and presumptions which attach to this and every investigation.

"To do so otherwise would cause prejudice and harm to the process. It is not appropriate for Canon Brown to make any further comment at this time." It has also been alleged that Canon Brown was confronted by a member of the public at least one month before he discussed it with the diocese.

The allegation was put to Canon Brown at the beginning of March and then again a number of weeks later.

On the second occasion, the priest refused to make his diocese aware of the allegation against him, denying it was his responsibility to refer himself to the church authorities.

When the allegation was put to him by the member of the public, he denied ever having abused anyone.

It has been reported that it was a month before Ms Carville formally spoke to Canon Brown about the allegation and when she did speak to the police she could not tell them about the nature of the allegation.

It was only after the alleged victim contacted the police that the investigation could be progressed.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Dromore said: "Issues of safeguarding are taken very seriously in the Diocese of Dromore and, as per our policies and the direction of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC) we co-operate fully and social services in regard to complaints, allegations and suspicions referred to the diocese.

"We are aware of an ongoing investigation at this time and will not be in a position to comment on these matters until the police have completed their enquiries."

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