By Rob Cooper
Last updated at 6:08 PM on 30th August 2011
A former Roman Catholic priest exposed as a serial child sex abuser today claimed he posed no ‘threat or danger to children’ – despite living by a playground.
Bill Carney was defrocked in 1992 after he was exposed as a ‘serial sex abuser’ who had targeted at least 32 youngsters.
The Irishman – convicted of indecent assault – became one of the most notorious offenders in the church’s history.
The ex-priest, who was ordained in 1974, left Ireland and settled in Northleach, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, after being found living in Spain.
But in a letter sent to his local newspaper pleading for a second chance, he said he had lived next to the play area for seven years.
Neighbours expressed serious concerns after his back gate was found to lead straight onto the children’s play area 100 yards away.
But after the Gloucestershire Echo outed him as an abuser living in his ex-wife’s home, the priest hit back in the letter printed today.
‘Your article depicts me as a threat or a danger to children. Nothing could be further from the truth,’ he wrote.
‘For over 30 years now I have been a recovering alcoholic and the only mark against my name is three points on my driving licence for doing 38mph in a 40mph area.’
Mr Carney, who is believed to have made a mistake in his description of his speeding offence, added: ‘In these 30 years there has not been the slightest suggestion of anything that would indicate that I am a danger to any child.
‘I have lived in Northleach for about seven years and I have been in that playground once and again in my time and years in Northleach nothing has occurred to suggest that I was in any way, shape of form a danger to the welfare of any child.’
Mr Carney even likened himself to Andy Coulson who he said was given a ‘second chance’ by David Cameron after he resigned from the News of the World.
He added: ‘The Prime Minister said he gave Mr Andy Coulson a second chance and that everyone does deserve a second chance.
‘Over 30 years ago was a very low and sad time in my life, I was given a second chance.
‘A chance to stop drinking and begin again to live a good life and be a good person.
‘I grabbed that chance with both hands and I am today a good person doing my best to have a good life, one day at a time.
‘I know in my heart what kind of person I am today and I know that I do not pose any threat of danger to any child, 30 years surely must mean and say something.
‘I am a good honest Christian living as best I can one day at a time and your article and whatever others say, thank God, does not change that. All I ask for is a chance.’
The Murphy Report, which investigated paedophilia in the church in Ireland, revealed that Carney had pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault in 1983 against two altar boys when it was published two years ago.
As the crimes were committed abroad, he is not on the Sex Offenders’ Register in Britain.
‘He was one of the most serious serial abusers investigated by the Commission,’ the Murphy Report stated.
‘There is some evidence suggesting that, on separate occasions, he may have acted in concert with other convicted clerical child sexual abusers.’
The report quoted a letter written by the tribunal that defrocked Carney in 1992 to Archbishop Desmond Connell, the then Archbishop of Dublin.
The letter stated: ‘Like alcoholism there is no hope of cure for the paedophile unless he comes to terms with his complaint.
‘To this day the accused has refused – despite a civil court case and much other evidence – to admit that he suffers from this paraphilia.’
Carney has never been tried for any of the allegations made in the report.
In March last year the BBC’s Panorama found him living in Spain.
‘I have read the Murphy report six or seven times,’ he told the programme.
‘And I would dispute all of it except that I pleaded guilty to two charges in 1983 and the matter was dealt with by the court and I was sentenced.’