Kevin Reynolds (priest)
|Fr. Kevin Reynolds|
|Residence||Ahascragh, County Galway, Ireland|
|Known for||Being the subject of a defamation by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) in "Mission to Prey" (Prime Time)|
Fr. Kevin Reynolds is an Irish Catholic priest, falsely alleged in a news feature on RTÉ (the national television network of Ireland) to have raped and impregnated a Kenyan teenager. A scandal ensued when the allegations were discovered to be false, which generated intensive media coverage and political debate in Ireland, resulting in a government inquiry into the broadcaster.
The allegations were made in a report by journalist Aoife Kavanagh titled "Mission to Prey", which aired in May 2011 on the Prime Time programme. Kavanagh alleged that during his time as a missionary in Kenya, Fr. Reynolds raped and impregnated a minor named Veneraanda, fathering a child called Sheila. She also alleged that he secretly provided financial support to Sheila over a number of years. Both Veneranda and Sheila were interviewed in the programme to corroborate the allegations. The events were purported to have taken place in the diocese of Kakamega in Kenya.
Prior to the broadcasting of the show, Father Reynolds volunteered to have DNA testing undertaken to prove his innocence but this offer was refused by RTÉ. Later, two separate and independent DNA tests established that Reynolds was not the father of the child. With this it emerged that the allegations were entirely baseless. However, as a result of the broadcast, Fr. Reynolds had been removed from his home and from his parish ministry.
When it became public knowledge that Fr. Reynolds had been falsely accused, RTÉ broadcast an apology to him. Prime Time, the series on which the allegations were broadcast, was immediately suspended. Director-General of RTÉ Noel Curran admitted the broadcasting of "Mission to Prey" was "one of the gravest editorial mistakes ever made" at RTÉ. RTÉ staff, including Mike Murphy, John Bowman and Sean O'Rourke, publicly criticised the libel.
The head of the Irish Missionary Union said Aoife Kavanagh's continuing presence on Morning Ireland after being found guilty of defaming Fr Kevin Reynolds was "unfair and unjust" and a demonstration of "double standards" in the media.
In November 2011, Father Reynolds agreed to an out-of-court libel settlement settlement with RTÉ. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed. His solicitor also requested that Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter "clarify that he accepts that Fr Reynolds was guilty of no wrongdoing," in response to Shatter's previous public support of "Mission to Prey" when it was broadcast in May 2011.
- Irish TV Network Defames Innocent Priest, Issues Apology, The Media Report, November 2011, accessed 23 November 2011.
- Republic's government order probe into RTE Fr Reynolds libel case, BBC News, 23 November 2011.
- Allen, John (2011-12-02). "A new symbol of false sex abuse allegations". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
- "Apology - Fr Kevin Reynolds". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "(Audio) Morning Ireland: RTÉ apology to Fr Kevin Reynolds". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- Cullen, Paul; McGreevy, Ronan (23 November 2011). "RTÉ shelves investigative series and concedes 'grave mistake'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Gittens, Geraldine (24 November 2011). "RTÉ stars slam 'shameful' libel as chiefs step aside". Evening Herald. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- "Reporter's broadcasts in wake of libel finding 'unfair'". The Irish Times. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Brennan, Michael (26 November 2011). "Shatter in U-turn on his 'rash' support for Prime Time". Irish Independent. Retrieved 26 November 2011.