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  • The ex-coach was convicted in 2016 for sexually assaulting 10 boys from October 1984 to December 1987 in the city of Waterford and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

    The ex-coach was convicted in 2016 for sexually assaulting 10 boys from October 1984 to December 1987 in the city of Waterford and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 January 2019

Bill Kenneally arrived in court Tuesday to face 171 counts of sexual assault charges of minors in the 1980s.

Ireland’s Judge Kevin Staunton is reviewing the evidence against former basketball coach and political activist, Bill Kenneally, who arrived in court Tuesday to face 171 counts of sexual assault charges against three boys in 1980s.

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An accountant by trade, the ex-coach was convicted in 2016 for sexually assaulting 10 boys from October 1984 to December 1987 in the city of Waterford. The case was revisited after abuse victims emerged and new allegations lodged with local police. Last April the then-justice minister, Frances Fitzgerald, initiated a commission of inquiry, however, it came to a grinding halt after Kenneally appealed the severity of his 14-year prison sentence.

Abuse survivors, Jason Clancy, Colin Power, Barry Murphy, and Paul Walsh turned to social media, asking the public to come forward with any additional information that would be helpful in the case against Kenneally and the corrupt members of Waterford city who allowed the crime to continue in impunity.

“We only really wanted to get this man put in prison for what he did in the beginning. But the more we looked into it and saw the amount of cover-ups that were in it for the last 30 years. We, said, ‘Jesus, more has to be done about this,'” the men said in a Facebook video.

Over the last five years, the four survivors discovered they were not the only Waterford citizens who knew about Kenneally’s pedophilia, but his political connections stifled complaints and contributed to a culture of cover-ups throughout the community. Members of the clergy, police, medical and political fields were witnesses of three decades of abuse, the men said.

In one case, two young teenage boys reported an incident to their teacher. Consequently, they were sent to counseling, while the school turned a blind eye to the coach’s questionable behavior.

Clancy, whose reports triggered the initial inquiry, said he was violated over 300 times by his sports instructor over the course of nearly four years. The government’s decision to stall its investigation have only served to injure victims further.

“I feel absolutely disgusted by the government; they weren’t handcuffed, they weren’t blindfolded, tied to trees in the forest, they weren’t abused, we were the ones abused,” he said.

The survivors told viewers, “To get the truth is the most important thing and to find out who let us down and who did nothing about it when they knew something was going on and who let Bill Kenneally go about his business and abusing lots and lots of boys over a period of time. And once the truth comes out, that’ll be closure,” said the survivors.

“I would say it’s not easy...there’s lots of reasons why people would withhold information, but at the end of the day this isn’t about us anymore. This is about trying to learn from the mistakes of the past...unless we get to the bottom of this could happen again,” the men said.

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