An elderly Irish Catholic priest facing extradition from the US over charges of child sex abuse was first suspended from service 45 years ago, it was revealed last night.
Father Francis Markey is accused of raping a 15-year-old boy during a pilgrimage to Lough Derg, Co Donegal, and again in Co Galway, both in 1968.
The retired cleric had been treated in a top Dublin mental health hospital following an allegation of abuse four years earlier.
The 81-year-old was arrested by US Marshals at his home in Indiana on Monday and was brought before the US District Court the following day.
Joseph Duffy, Bishop of Clogher where Fr Markey served until 1976, revealed he had written to the priest seven years ago urging him to return home and present himself to authorities to answer allegations.
"The abuse of a child is a despicable act and I condemn it unreservedly," the bishop said.
"My primary concern regarding abuse, and allegations of abuse, is for the victim."
Fr Markey, who was ordained in 1952, has been treated four times in mental health facilities after concerns were raised about his behaviour.
He was first suspended and sent for treatment in 1964.
The following year he became curate in Threemilehouse, Co Monaghan, where an accusation was reported to gardai in 1973. He was again suspended and sent for treatment.
Within two years Fr Markey was suspended from another position at Inniskeen parish and sent to a rehabilitation clinic known as Stroud in Brownshill, Gloucestershire.
He then had five years supervision in Clifden diocese in England before he went to a treatment centre run by a religious congregation in New Mexico in 1981.
The priest became a member of the Servants of the Paraclete before he skipped the centre four years later.
It is understood the Director of Public Prosecutions issued a warrant for his arrest 18 months ago and requested the priest be sent back to Ireland to face trial.
Pamela Mozdzierz, a spokeswoman for the US Marshal in northern Indiana, said the pensioner was arrested without any struggle at his home address in Miller Court, South Bend.
"When he was approached he was standing outside his home on the front porch," she said.
"He appeared in court yesterday and the next hearing is Monday next week."
The accused priest told the judge he was in bad health, having survived a stroke and a recent fall in which he hit his head.
The court heard that Irish authorities issued warrants for the priest in April and May last year after a garda investigation and requested he be held without bail until the extradition request was resolved.
Fr Markey was remanded to St Joseph County Jail until 16 November.
Bishop Duffy said that, in all cases of abuse, the diocese follows State and Church best practice guidelines, with gardai and health chiefs advised of all allegations.
"The safeguarding of children in the Diocese of Clogher is underpinned by the existence of child protection-trained volunteers in each of the 37 parishes of the diocese," he said.
He added that a dedicated committee had been set up in the diocese to liaise with the church watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.