Girl called Childline on priest who 'inappropriately touched' her

The now 19-year-old claimed she was inappropriately touched by Father Neil McGarrity.

Girl called Childline with concerns about Glasgow priest, court hears iStock

A girl called Childline after she was concerned about her priest’s behaviour, a trial heard on Thursday.

The now 19-year-old claimed she was inappropriately touched by Father Neil McGarrity, 58, at a chapel and parish house in Glasgow.

The teen said she was rubbed on the waist by McGarrity who also played “footsie” with her under a table when she was around third year at high school.

She also stated that she was also touched “like a massage rub” on her lower back at a Superbowl party.

The witness told Glasgow Sheriff Court she called the helpline early on due to his initial behaviour towards her.

McGarrity is on trial accused of engaging in sexual activity with her between December 2017 and March 2019.

He is further accused of other sexual related charges against three other girls at two Glasgow chapels and other places between December 2017 and February 2020.

The court heard from the 19-year-old who told the court in evidence that she called Childline about McGarrity after a conversation with her mum a short time after he joined St Thomas’ Church.

She said: “It wasn’t much of a deep conversation.

“It was that he was being really close and I was getting someone else’s view if it was normal.

“I never had really had that much real concern about it as I really liked him.”

The witness claimed that her mum – who did chores at McGarrity’s parish house – continued to work for him after she made the call.

The witness stated that she would sometimes attend the parish house with her mum.

Billy Lavelle, defending, said: “I understand Father McGarrity put his arm around your waist area and rubbed your waist on a number of occasions?”

The witness replied: “Yes.”

She stated that it happened in the hall, kitchen, living room and outside.

The witness added: “It was along with the hand holding and footsie under the table.”

The teenager also recalled being rubbed on the chest and arm by McGarrity after a Christmas Eve service.

She added that he kept his hand on her waist for a period of time.

The witness stated that at a gathering in the parish house with family before the 2020 Superbowl, McGarrity rubbed her lower back.

She said: “It felt like a massage rub.”

She then alleged that she was touched on the leg on two occasions by McGarrity in his car while he was driving.

The witness claimed that McGarrity also added her on Twitter and Instagram early on after meeting him.

She also stated that she and other children were called “Pom Pom” by McGarrity.

Mr Lavelle said: “At no time did he rub your waist in the way you described.”

The teenager replied: “He did do that, he did rub my waist, almost every time.”

The lawyer also suggested to the witness there was no physical contact after the Christmas Eve service and they “simply waited for a taxi in the rain” with her mum and friend.

She said: “I remember it being cold but no rain, but there was definitely contact.”

The trial continues before Sheriff Gerard Considine.

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