The Times (UK)
Sean O’Driscoll, Ireland Reporter
June 5 2017
An American priest and psychologist at the centre of suspected murder scandal was hired as a child psychologist in Ireland after a series of sexual abuse cases, the former chief executive of the southeastern health board has said.
John Cooney said that Joseph Maskell, the subject of the Netflix documentary The Keepers, almost certainly counselled child sexual abuse victims. Mr Cooney said he believed that Maskell may have been hired without a job interview because he had adequate qualifications and experience and because the health board was chronically short of child psychologists to deal with the huge growth in sexual abuse cases that came to light in the 1990s.
“Children were referred to him for counselling,” Mr Cooney told The Times. “He wouldn’t have much access to adult patients when he was working for us, it was mainly the child welfare service.”
Maskell, he said, dealt with “a range of issues that affect young children”, adding: “It could include interrelationship problems, bullying or any indication of child abuse. Sexual abuse would be obvious cases for referral.”
Mr Cooney said that he read about Maskell in the papers recently and “a lot of memories came back to me”. He said that the funding to hire an extra child psychologist to work for the southeastern health board became available following the Kilkenny incest scandal in 1993, when a man in the health board’s catchment area was convicted of the sexual and physical abuse of his daughter for 16 years.