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'highly unacceptable' Priest convicted of masturbating in car beside Galway beach has one-month sentence suspended

His solicitor said his client felt deeply ashamed and was "shocked and remorseful" of his own behaviour

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Fr Jerry Carey

Fr Jerry Carey

Fr Jerry Carey

A priest and school chaplain who was convicted of masturbating in a car beside a popular Galway beach on a bank holiday would not comment on the incident.

Fr Jerry Carey, who has been a priest based in Co Clare since 1984, pleaded guilty this week to intentionally engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature at Blackrock in Salthill on August 3 last year.

He was given a one-month prison sentence which was suspended in full.

Fr Carey has stood down as chaplain to Coláiste Muire all-girls secondary school in Ennis and also stood down from ministry.

As well as being school chaplain he had been the parish priest of Doora-Barefield in the Diocese of Killaloe.

The Sunday World made numerous attempts to contact Fr Carey about the conviction yesterday but he did not respond to requests for comment.

Bishop Fintan Monahan issued a statement last week apologising for the hurt caused by Fr Carey's "highly unacceptable behaviour".

Galway District Court heard gardai received a report from a member of the public that a man was masturbating in his car beside the popular beach and swimming spot where temperatures rose to 18C on that August Bank Holiday Monday.

Stress

His solicitor said he had travelled up to visit Galway that day and was under a lot of stress due to health issues.

Judge Mary Fahy said that families go to swim and relax by the beach in Blackrock and it is "highly upsetting" for people to see someone masturbating in public.

She said while he was in his own car he could be clearly seen as someone reported him to Gardai.

His solicitor said his client felt deeply ashamed and was "shocked and remorseful" of his own behaviour. In a previous interview speaking about being a priest Fr Carey previously talked about the aloneness that comes with celibacy.

"There is at times a feeling of aloneness, due to celibacy. This is not the same as loneliness as I know many people who are married become quite lonely. In a way this can be a good thing allowing for a lot more reflection on what is happening."

Fr Carey was heavily involved in his local community and would travel with dozens of young people from Co Clare on an annual week-long pilgrimage to Taizé in France followed by a trip to Disneyland Paris. He was also involved in the annual Cycle against Suicide.

Bishop Monahan issued a statement this week saying Fr Carey "has sincerely apologised for his behaviour and deeply regrets the damage caused by his actions".

"As bishop of Killaloe, I acknowledge the upset and distress caused to his parishioners, the priests and the many people to whom he ministered in the diocese.

Unacceptable

"On behalf of the diocese I wish to apologise for the hurt caused by this crime and what is highly unacceptable behaviour.

"Once the incident came to light, Fr Carey stood down from ministry and immediately engaged in a therapeutic course of assessment and counselling, which continues.

"Once the criminal proceedings are concluded a canonical process will follow. If there is anyone who has been affected by any of these issues, you are encouraged to contact the diocese or relevant authorities".


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