Retired Northampton Catholic Priest on trial accused of sexually assaulting children

Francis McDermott, a 75-year-old retired Catholic Priest from the Northampton Diocese, has appeared at court accused of sexually assaulting six children in the 1970s.

A complainant, now in his 50s, who alleges he was sexually abused by the defendant, described Father McDermott as having a very high sex drive, saying: “He was sex mad. He was always talking about it.”

In 2004, the witness was contacted by the Priest after the latter had been accused of sexually assaulting a young girl be-known to the witness. She believed the witness had knowledge of her assaults, which also took place in the 1970s.

Before meeting McDermott, the witness purchased a tape recorder and recorded their conversation.

The witness said: “I just wanted to record what he said as I sensed panic. I guessed it was about the sexual abuse.”

On the tape the complainant can be heard saying he didn't see the alleged offences against the then 12-year-old girl, but did refer to fondling that took place between himself and the priest.

The priest also said on the tape that he believes the girl was an attention-seeker who had a crush on him.

“I can't understand, 30 years down the lane, why she's saying it,” he says on the 2004 recording.

The complainant did not do anything with the tape for over a decade, Aylesbury Crown Court heard yesterday (Tuesday).

McDermott, a former Northampton Diocese Priest, is on trial at Aylesbury Crown Court.

McDermott, a former Northampton Diocese Priest, is on trial at Aylesbury Crown Court.

“I decided not to pursue it,” he said, and it was only after seeking therapy [after a relationship break-up] that he decided to report his own abuse.

Patrick Hill QC, for the defence, said that the witness had been treated for mental health issues in the past. Mr Hill told the court that he believed the abuse was getting worse in the complainants' mind due to the influence of his therapy. The defence said that what began as “touching” soon became thousands of sexual assaults after the therapy sessions.

But the complainant responded forcefully:

“The abuse wasn't getting worse, I was admitting more.”

Mr Hill then moved on to querying why a second meeting between the defendant and the complainant had not been recorded back in 2004, suggesting that the reason was because he was asking the Priest about compensation.

The witness responded: “This is all fabricated.”

McDermott, now of Bideford in Devon, is charged with 18 counts of indecent assault, four counts of indecent assault on a male person, two counts of indecency with a child, one count of buggery and one count of rape.

McDermott denies the charges.

The trial continues.