The Catholic Church has admitted that the former President of St Patrick's College Maynooth, Monsignor Micheál Ledwith, made a private settlement with a minor who claimed he had sexually abused him.

Dr Ledwith subsequently resigned with a substantial top-up to his pension and is now teaching in California. He has consistently denied the allegation and a subsequent one by a former student at the college.

The retirement of Dr Ledwith from the Presidency of Maynooth in June 1994 was a surprise. He had served for nine years, had written the history of the College, and was about to lead its bicentennial celebrations.

Within months, RTÉ News told a college spokesman we had been informed an allegation of abuse had been made against the former President, but this was flatly dismissed as a reason for his departure.

But now the current President of the College, Monsignor Dermot Farrell, and the Bishops who act as trustees, have issued a statement which tells a fuller story.

The statement says that prior to his retirement, an allegation pertaining to sexual abuse of a minor was made against Monsignor Ledwith. He was informed of the allegation and denied it strenuously.

His Bishop – Brendan Comiskey – told both the Gardaí and relevant Health Board.

The college trustees began a process of investigation but about a year later their former President made a private legal settlement with the claimant without admitting any liability. This settlement included a confidentiality clause.

The college says that neither it nor the Church were involved in any way and had nothing whatsoever to do with this agreement, but that the confidentiality clause impeded its investigations because the vital evidence of the complainant would not be available.

Nevertheless, the trustees continued to pursue the investigation process.

And ultimately in 1996 Monsignor Ledwith resigned from the personal professorship on the basis that he receive an appropriate pension.He got a pension top-up of about £100,000.

Later, the trustees were informed of another allegation of abuse by solicitors on behalf of a former student of the college between 1992 and 1994. Monsignor Ledwith vehemently denied it saying he was not even in the country at the time of the alleged abuse.

Since his retirement, Monsignor Ledwith has lived mostly in the USA where he now teaches in California's Ramtha's School of Enlightenment.