By Brion Hoban
A former rugby coach and teacher at a Dublin private school who abused 23 students has been jailed for eight years.
John McClean (76) abused the boys between 1973 and 1990 while he worked for Terenure College. He left the school in 1996 after certain allegations were made and took up a role coaching rugby with UCD.
Passsing sentence today, Judge Pauline Codd imposed an effective sentence of 11 years imprisonment with the final three years suspended.
At a previous sentencing hearing, Inspector Jason Miley told Paul Murray SC, prosecuting, that McClean was an English teacher at Terenure College between 1966 and 1996. He also worked as a rugby coach in the school.
McClean assaulted several of the victims under the guise of fitting them for costumes for plays he produced in the school. He was removed from his role with the school plays in 1979 after certain allegations of abuse were made against him.
He was then appointed first year “form master” in the early 1980’s and had his own office. Many of the subsequent indecent assaults committed by McClean occurred in this office when he brought boys there after they had gotten into trouble in class.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that some of the victims believed they were either not selected for or dropped from the school rugby team as punishment for challenging him over his sexual abuse of them.
Inspector Miley said that in 1996 the father of one of the victims informed Father Robert Kelly, the then Provincial of the Carmelite Order in Ireland, about the allegation his son had made against McClean.
He said Fr Kelly had a number of meetings over the summer break with McClean during which it was made clear McClean would not be returning to Terenure College. McClean was granted a three-year career break and became a rugby coach at UCD.
Inspector Miley agreed with Sean Guerin SC, defending, that Fr Kelly had a note of one of the meetings with McClean in 1996 during which McClean admitted to the allegation.
Fr Kelly told gardaí when providing these notes to them during this investigation that he had no recollection of this, but if it was in the notes then “it was true”.
McClean, of Casimir Avenue, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, pleaded guilty to 27 charges of indecently assaulting the males at Terenure College in Dublin on dates between 1973 and 1990. Further charges are being taken into consideration.
The accused had denied all offences when interviewed by gardaí and three trial dates were fixed before he finally pleaded guilty in November 2020. He has no previous convictions.
In his victim impact statement one victim described McClean as “evil personified” and said that he had “crossed paths with the devil at Terenure College”.
Another victim said that he hoped a landmark will be built on the grounds of Terenure College as an acknowledgement of the past. He said such a gesture would go some way to healing the victims and their family members.
A third victim suggested that parents of the victims should have their school fees refunded to them in full.
Mr Guerin said his client has instructed him to give an “unreserved and unconditional apology”. He said his client was “ashamed” of what he did and that no victim bares any responsibility for any of the offences or any of the harm done by him.