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Credit: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Former Boys Brigade leader pleads guilty to sexual abuse of two young Wicklow brothers

Gordon Black appeared in relation to four counts of indecent assault from during the 1970s.

A FORMER YOUTH leader with the Boys Brigade has pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of two young brothers from Co Wicklow over 40 years ago.

Gordon Black (72), a former leader of the Christian youth organisation, appeared before Wicklow Circuit Criminal Court in relation to four counts of indecent assault on the younger brother on various unknown dates during the 1970s.

Black, a widower and father of three of Mill Meadows, Arklow, Co Wicklow, also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of indecent assault on the victim’s older brother.

The two victims knew Black as a family friend as well as through sporting and Boys Brigade connections.

Suspended two-year sentence

The court heard the brothers, now aged 53 and 58, contacted gardaí about Black after seeing a newspaper report in January 2020 when he received a suspended two-year prison sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. 

That case related to three offences of indecent assault of a young boy between 1965 and 1969 when they were both members of the Boys Brigade.

The two brothers had raised concerns with church authorities about Black’s role in the Boys Brigade in 1996 which resulted in his immediate departure from the organisation.

However, no formal complaint was made to gardaí about Black at the time as they were incorrectly informed that their names could become public.

The court heard the first offence against the younger brother took place during a Boys Brigade camp in a hall in Clonroche, Co Wexford around 1976.

Detective Garda Kevin Donnegan said the victim was asleep in a sleeping bag beside Black when the youth leader put his hand down the inside of the boy’s pyjamas in the middle of the night and touched him on his penis. Black then took the victim’s hand and placed it on his own penis.

Completely confused

The victim said he was completely confused by what happened but knew it did not feel right.

The court heard that Black, who worked as a van salesman, also used to abuse the boy in the back of his vehicle when he accompanied him delivering to shops in the south-east of the country.

Counsel for the DPP, James Kelly BL, said the abuse was conducted as an “amazingly brazen activity” as Black used to leave the rear doors of the vehicle open.

The court heard such incidents occurred around ten times in total.

On another occasion, the boy was invited to stay overnight in Black’s house but was surprised to find that the accused’s wife was not there when he arrived.


While he thought he would be sleeping in a spare room, the boy was brought into Black’s own bedroom where he was abused.

The boy said the image of seeing Black naked and erect was “burnt into my mind” while he could still recall his abuser’s “prickly beard and nicotine breath.”

On one occasion, Black ended up in a bedroom with his victim during a party in the boy’s house but was interrupted when the boy’s older brother came into the room.

Other offences took place at a location known as “The Rock” south of Arklow.

Indecent assault

Black indecently assaulted the boy’s older brother one night when they were stopped in a car on the way to hunting rabbits.

The boy, who was driving the car, took off so fast after Black had reached across to try and open his trousers, that the accused was pushed back into his seat.

Det Donnegan said Black made full admissions after he was interviewed last year and had stated he had been abused himself as a child.

Counsel for Black, Paul Murray SC, said his client has been “waiting for a knock on the door for the last 25 years” and wished to apologise and offer his deep remorse to his victims for the breach of trust and betrayal of their childhood.

The court heard Black told gardai that the abuse came at a time when he was trying to find out whether he liked young boys or women but that he did not consider himself a homosexual.

‘Little secrets’

Det Donnegan said Black had informed him when questioned that there were no other victims of his abuse beside the three males who had been identified in court hearings.

In a victim impact statement, Black’s younger victim said he had hidden what happened away for many years until he read the newspaper report about Black when his “box filled with little secrets became horrible crimes.”

His older brother said what happened had a devastating and lasting effect even though he realised the abuse could have been far more serious.

The man said he felt he had failed to protect his younger and more vulnerable younger brother.

He said Black’s “evil action will remain forever like a stain on my soul”.

Judge Patrick Quinn adjourned sentencing in the case until next March to allow for the preparation of a psychologist’s report.

Seán McCárthaigh