Last May, RTÉ, the national television network of Ireland, aired a high-profile, prime-time special entitled, "A Mission to Prey." It was a show designed to lambaste the Catholic Church for sex abuse scandals.
The show made the startling claim that a previously unblemished Irish priest, Fr. Kevin Reynolds, had raped and impregnated a young girl years earlier in Kenya. It even claimed that the priest had secretly supported the mother and his child financially.
Even before the program aired, Fr. Kevin vehemently denied the claims. Not only did he assert that he had never even known anyone by the accuser's name, but he also agreed to a paternity test.
But RTÉ was anxious to air the show and attack the Church, so it broadcast the program anyway.
As a result of the allegations, Fr. Reynolds was forced to leave his parish ministry and home.
Now it turns out that a paternity test has proved that there was no way that Fr. Reynolds could be the father of the woman's daughter.
If you have six minutes, check out this unbelievable hatchet job on a totally innocent man. (The video says it's 7 minutes long, but the last minute is just credits.)
RTÉ has since issued an apology.
RTÉ acknowledges that the material in the programme concerning Fr. Reynolds ought never to have been broadcast.
RTÉ now fully and unreservedly accepts that the allegations made by Prime Time against Fr. Kevin Reynolds are baseless, without any foundation whatever and untrue and that Fr. Reynolds is a priest of the utmost integrity who has had an unblemished 40 year career in the priesthood and who has made a valuable contribution to society in Kenya and Ireland both in education and in ministry.
RTÉ acknowledges the defamation has had a devastating effect on Fr. Kevin Reynolds, his family, his peers, his parishioners in Ahascragh, those in the diocese of Kakamega in Kenya who were aware of the allegations and all those who know him or of him.
There have been reports that libel proceedings against the network will begin this month.
This episode provides some valuable lessons: The accuser and her daughter are very detailed and convincing when chronicling their charges in the interview. This should serve as a future caution to all when weighing the credibility of certain claims.
In addition, Fr. Reynolds has handled his exoneration with honor and grace. Despite this incredible ordeal, he says that he harbors no "anger or resentment" or "bitterness."
Fr. Reynolds "carried his cross with great dignity," said his bishop.
The return of the innocent priest prompted three standing ovations from the congregation that celebrated his homecoming.