By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — After eight years of rumors, the 17 Catholic bishops who are trustees of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, have admitted that the former president made a private cash settlement with a minor who claimed he sexually abused him.
Msgr. Miceal Ledwith, who now lives in the U.S. and is featured on a West Coast New Age website, was a leading academic whose departure from the national seminary in 1994 caused widespread surprise and speculation.
Ledwith, who had been president of the college since 1985, said when he left that he was facilitating the trustees in the appointment of a head of a new university that was anticipated at the time. He has strenuously and consistently denied the original abuse allegations and a subsequent one by a former student at the college.
He was appointed to a “personal professorship” on his retirement and then granted two years’ leave of absence.
When Ledwith resigned, the trustees “arranged a capital payment of _77,030 to Irish Pensions Trust so as to provide him with an index-linked pension,” according to a statement.
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In the statement, the trustees say that prior to his retirement in 1994, an allegation of sexual abuse involving a minor was made against Ledwith.
The allegation was made known to the gardai, the health board and his bishop, Dr. Brendan Comiskey, who stepped down from his Ferns diocese earlier this year because of his handling of sex-abuse allegations against priests.
The trustees say that despite Ledwith’s denial of the abuse allegation, they began a process that would lead to a tribunal of inquiry under the statutes of the college.
“In the process, it was indicated that Monsignor Ledwith had decided, on the basis of his own legal advice, to enter into settlement discussions with the complainant, while still categorically denying the allegation,” they said.
“He made a private settlement with the claimant in late 1995, without admission of any liability.
“The settlement was funded entirely by Monsignor Ledwith and without any assistance whatsoever from the Church or the College.”
Ledwith now appears on the Internet website of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment, based in Washington state and in Monterey, Calif.