By Leon Watson
Last updated at 12:11 PM on 28th December 2011
A fugitive Catholic priest accused of 55 child sex crimes has been deported from Brazil after eight years on the run, it was reported today.
Father Peter Kennedy, 72, was a the centre of a major abuse scandal in 2003 after one of his victims was awarded £271,000 – the largest known pay-out in a clerical sex abuse case in Ireland.
The man claimed the priest had raped him as a 13-year-old boy after coming to his family’s County Sligo home to administer the last rites to his father, who was dying of cancer.
Kennedy disappeared weeks later after it emerged up to 18 other individuals had come forward, accusing him of a catalogue of abuse stretching back to the 1980s.
More alleged victims have since made themselves known to police.
At the time, the cleric was rumoured to have fled to Brazil, and in 2004 Interpol issued a ‘blue notice’ against him, formally requesting his capture and deportation.
Kennedy is now known to have used a British passport to travel from London to Brazil, where he settled in Osasco, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, and made a living by teaching English.
Brazil’s Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported today that federal police had been following the priest’s movements for the last four months, but didn’t make an arrest before necessary deportation documents had been finalised.
A police source told the newspaper that, as Brazil and Ireland don’t have a formal extradition treaty, police acted with deliberate caution so as not to arouse suspicion and allow Kennedy time to make legal attempts to block his deportation.
Brazilian Federal officers finally made their move on Monday morning, when they swooped on the priest before taking him directly to Sao Paulo International Airport.
At 11.30pm that night he was then boarded on a plane bound for London, where Irish authorities were waiting for him.
Kennedy was suspended from the ministry in 1986 after claims of abuse began to emerge and he had moved to London, where up until his escape to Brazil he had been working as a taxi driver.
Seven years later the Kiltegan Fathers, the order to which Kennedy belonged, paid the record-breaking compensation to his victim following a settlement of a High Court case.
When news of Kennedy’s disappearance broke, the man’s victim’s brother made a passionate plea to track down the priest and bring him to justice.
The victim’s brother, named only as Joe, told how his mother had caught the priest molesting the young boy at their home.
He said: ‘My mother heard some roaring from my younger brother’s room. She found him on the floor with his pants down. Kennedy was standing over him adjusting his trousers.
‘The priest had told him he had power over life and death and the abuse was to have been their secret. My mother ran him from the house and told him never to come back.’
He said his brother had become an alcoholic at the aged of 18, self-harmed and tried to commit suicide as a result of the abuse he suffered.
He said: ‘No amount of money can compensate for that. What is 325,000 euros to a man who had 20 years of turmoil? It won’t bring back his life.
‘Until he is brought to justice the compensation money means nothing.’
Kennedy’s brother, named only as Joe, said at the time that he believed the priest had escaped to Brazil in a bid to evade prosecution.
He said: ‘We are happy that he (the victim) has had some recognition for what he has been through but nothing will compensate him for the misery he has been through.
‘The information available to us is that the gardam wanted to extradite Father Kennedy from London and when they went to get him he was gone.
‘It is believed that he is now in Brazil. To me that is a man on the run, there is no extradition from Brazil.’