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GROPE PRIEST MAKES DEAL WITH VICTIM; He avoids more court shame.

A PRIEST who groped his former topless model housekeeper yesterday struck a deal with her to avoid further humiliation in court.

Father David Brown, 48, was due to appear at an industrial tribunal next week, seven months after being found guilty of sexually assaulting ex-glamour girl Maria McBride. But the 31-year-old single mum scrapped her sex discrimination and unfair dismissal claims after reaching an agreement with the priest to their "mutual satisfaction".

Last night, the Catholic Church denied paying Maria off, claiming any settlement reached was strictly between Mr Brown and his former housekeeper.

A spokesman said: "We certainly haven't given Father Brown any money and he has none of his own so we've no idea what has been agreed.

"Mrs McBride was a direct employee of Father Brown and not us.

And a church insider added: "If Father Brown paid her any money, he must have had a win on the horses."

Yesterday, lawyers for both parties admitted a deal had been reached.

But, in a statement, they said: "No further comment can be made due to the confidentiality of the agreement."

Father Brown, the former parish priest at St Thomas's Church in Riddrie, Glasgow,was found guilty last August of sexual assault.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard he crept into her room and fondled her breasts after drinking a bottle of whisky.

Maria told the court how the priest terrorised her during overnight stays at the Chapel House and claimed she was sacked aftercomplaining.

But the court admonished Father Brown after hearing how Maria had a hysterical personality and had accused one of her babysitters and a hospital doctor of child abuse.

Maria spent years trying to make her fortune by posing naked and worked as a dancer in a gay club.

She faced eviction from a council flat after neighbours claimed she was running a brothel.

Yet Father Brown decided to give her a chance by giving her a job as his housekeeper in October 1997.

Now based at St Ninian's Catholic Church in Knightswood, Glasgow, he said last night: "We have settled this matter and I have nothing to add to the lawyer's statement."
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Author:Kane, Patricia
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 28, 2000
Words:357
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