Sheriff clears priest of schoolgirl sex claims

By Democrat reporter

BBC Scotland is reporting that a priest accused of sexual activity with a schoolgirl has been cleared after the allegations were dropped.

John Sweeney, 45, was accused of committing the offence between September 2016 and June 2017.

Father Sweeney – who denied the accusations against him – was a priest at St Maria Goretti Roman Catholic church in Glasgow at that time.

He also served as a chaplain at a secondary school in the city where the girl was a pupil.

Father Sweeney was on trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court (pictured above) where jurors had heard evidence from the girl – who is now 21 – about the alleged offences.

But the trial ended when prosecutor Harry Findlay later said he was withdrawing the charges and Sheriff Andrew Cubie formally acquitted Father Sweeney.

Prosecutors had earlier claimed Father Sweeney repeatedly engaged in sexual activity with the schoolgirl while in a position of trust.

He was accused of kissing and cuddling the girl as well as sending naked pictures of himself.

It was further alleged the girl was supplied with alcohol and asked about her sexual history by Father Sweeney.

The 45-year-old faced a separate charge of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner at a parish house in Glasgow.

Father Sweeney – who denied all of the charges against him – has been suspended by the Archdiocese of Glasgow since 2017.

A spokesman for the church said: “The Archdiocese notes the court’s decision not to proceed with the trial of Father Sweeney and acknowledges the determination that no legal offence has been committed. However, given the nature of the original allegations which led to the criminal prosecution, the Archdiocese of Glasgow will now continue its own canonical process, which was put on hold during the civil proceedings.

“Father Sweeney was suspended from priestly ministry at the time of his arrest and remains suspended.”

The Archdiocese added that it had co-operated with the police throughout the investigation and operated a zero tolerance policy for any form of inappropriate or abusive behaviour involving young people or vulnerable adults.

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