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frustrated Death of sex abuser Joseph Keegan after trial delay 'has robbed me of justice', says victim

Former Franciscan friar Joseph Keegan (79) recently died in Midlands Prison

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Serial abuser Joseph Keegan

Serial abuser Joseph Keegan

Serial abuser Joseph Keegan

A brave abuse survivor says he has been denied justice after the death of serial sex abuser Joseph Keegan (79) in the Midlands Prison.

The former Franciscan friar was in the second week of a five-year sentence for two counts of indecent assault in relation to an incident in which he took a young boy out of a classroom and raped him at a nearby church property in the mid-1980s.

He died in Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise after being found unresponsive in his cell on the evening of August 11.

Before committing this crime, Keegan had groomed and abused a 13-year-old boy in Bray, Co Wicklow, and was due to go on trial for these offences at Wicklow Circuit Court in November.

The abuse survivor, who does not want to be named, told the Herald when gardaí informed him of Keegan's death, he felt "frustrated, annoyed and depressed".

"I feel that I did not get justice - I have been going through the court process for five years and every time that the case was due to go ahead, he was able to get it adjourned with loads of excuses - this man played the system.

"Everything seemed to be in his favour and not the victim.

"It finally seemed definite that the case was going to be heard later this year, but now it will never be.

"I just wanted to get it over with so that I could get on with my life, but now I feel in limbo and like I have been kicked in the teeth," he said.

In the last photos of Keegan taken outside court this year, he was a frail, elderly man in a wheelchair.

But he was a tall, strapping man when he abused multiple victims in the early 1980s.

Keegan was accused of four counts of indecent assault against the man between January and July 1984 at St Ferghal's Hall, Parochial House and Bell Tower in Bray as well as Merchant's Quay in Dublin city centre.

However, the survivor estimates that he was abused more than a dozen times by Keegan, who plied the 13-year-old with whiskey before forcing the child to carry out sex acts on him at the above locations.

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"I was vulnerable and he took complete advantage of me.

"He was a big man who was hugely respected in the community. He was like a kind of God in Bray at the time.

"He would often give me a £5 note, which was big money for a kid in 1984, after he attacked me and then warned me not to say anything to anyone. I was very scared of him."

The survivor spent decades without revealing his ordeal to anyone, saying now "it was like a cancer in my head".

Eventually he confided in his mother who gave him the courage to go to the gardaí.

"I am friends with a garda called Dave McHugh and I told him what had happened to me as a child. He came back with a more senior detective John McDonnell and they took statements from and the case progressed from there."

The man said the gardaí "were absolutely brilliant on every level and so professional but the system let me down".

"Five years this case was before the courts and I have been denied justice," he said.

The survivor is now calling on other victims to come forward and has been in touch with a number of men who say they were also abused by Keegan but did not make a criminal complaint.

In May, a jury at Dublin Circuit Court found Keegan, with an address at Somerville Avenue, Crumlin, Dublin 12, guilty on two counts of indecent assault on the boy, the first for raping him on an unknown date in 1986 or 1987 at a church property in Dublin, the second for sexually assaulting him after football training at a school in the capital on a date in 1985 or 1986.

He was in his mid-40s when he abused the boy, who was only nine or 10 at the time.

That victim, now a man in his 40s, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Keegan had taken him out of school one day to show him where he lived, and then raped him there under the pretext of taking his temperature.

"I just remember when it was finished, he was saying I'd be OK. I felt I was screaming but not screaming out loud, I just wanted to get my clothes back on," he said.

Giving evidence at a sentence hearing earlier last month, a garda detective said Keegan was sentenced to six years in prison in 1999 for gross indecency over the sexual abuse of five boys while he ran a football club between 1977 and 1982.

Keegan was seated in a wheelchair throughout the proceedings and even had to be woken by his solicitor at one point during the sentencing hearing.

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