Three Irish newspapers have apologised to a former seminarian for publishing a story that falsely accused him of being a part of a fabricated sex scandal at the Irish College in Rome.
The Irish Examiner, The Irish Times, and The Echo all issued formal apologies, acknowledging there was no truth in the matter, saying the article was “false and should not have been published.”
In May 2018, the three papers published stories alleging Conor Gannon, a seminarian at the time, had been expelled or suspended from the Irish College in Rome after being found in bed with another seminarian.
Gannon filed a libel lawsuit against the publications, who now acknowledge “there was no truth in and no basis for” the claims.
Damages are expected to be paid to Gannon by the newspapers, as settled in High Court.
The Irish Catholic reports that The Irish Times refused to take down the story until recently, unlike other media outlets which did so shortly after it was revealed to be false.
A source close to one of the two accused told The Irish Catholic that “All he wanted was a simple correction of the record, that he left the Irish College in Rome of his own accord and was not kicked out or found to have been involved in some sexual activity with another seminarian. But the rector Msgr Ciaran O’Carroll refused.”
The source said “The young man gave four years of his life to the seminary and was hung out to dry, the Archbishop did a Pontius Pilate,” claiming that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin did not help clear the names of the two men falsely accused.
The Irish Catholic reported in May 2018 that the two men were reprimanded for excessive alcohol consumption and chose to leave the seminary, contrary to reports of their expulsion due to a sex scandal.
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