Seán Fortune

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Seán Fortune
Born 1954
Gorey, County Wexford, Ireland
Died 13 March 1999
New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland
Criminal charge Rape, sexual assault
Criminal penalty None. Committed suicide while awaiting trial
Parent(s) James Fortune and Elizabeth Acton
Personal details
Nationality Irish
Denomination Catholic Church
Occupation Priest

Seán Fortune (1954 – 13 March 1999) was a Catholic priest from Ireland, accused of child molestation, who allegedly used his position to gain access to his victims. The specific charge that he was accused of was the homosexual rape and sexual molestation of 29 different boys. He was never tried, but committed suicide before any charges were proved against him.


Born in Gorey, County Wexford, Fortune was the eldest son of Elizabeth (née Acton) and James Fortune. He was educated at St Peter's College, Wexford, which was the diocesan seminary of the diocese of Ferns. It was during his training that the first reports of his abuse were made, although it is not clear whether the Diocesan authorities had knowledge of these complaints before his ordination.[1]

Fortune ministered in the village of Fethard-on-Sea in County Wexford, in Belfast and in Dundalk. Allegations of abuse were made against him in all three places. Sean Cloney compiled a dossier of complaints against him. Fr. Fortune also set up a business in Dublin which offered media and journalism training to the public.

In March 1999, he committed suicide in New Ross while awaiting trial for 66 charges of sexual abuse against 29 boys. He had taken a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol[2] and was found dead in bed by his housekeeper. He was 45.[2] He had been remanded in custody pending trial but had been released days earlier.

In March 2002, the BBC broadcast Suing the Pope, a documentary detailing the activities of Fortune and the response of the Diocese of Ferns to his activities over the years. The Report of the Ferns Inquiry claims that two of Fortune's alleged victims have since committed suicide.

See also

Further reading

  • Tom Mooney, All the Bishops' Men - Clerical Abuse in an Irish Diocese, Collins Press


  1. ^ Ferns Report, pp. 153-54
  2. ^ a b McDonagh, Marese (March 16, 1999). "Comiskey set to officiate at funeral of Fr Fortune". Irish Independent. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 


  • A Message from Heaven:The Life and Crimes of Father Sean Fortune - Alison O'Connor, 2000 - ISBN 0-86322-270-6

External links

  • Clerical child abuse, an Irish timeline
  • Bleeding the Church
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