One of the country's leading academics and authors has been charged with sexually abusing three of his nephews, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

The man, who has a senior academic position in a prominent Dublin third-level educational institution, appeared before Dublin District Court last Friday where he was charged with 77 sample charges of sexual abuse.

The accused, who has written several best-selling academic tomes and is one of the principal experts in his field, appeared before the court after going to Terenure garda station by appointment, where he was then arrested.

This follows a garda investigation that has been going on for several months. Three of the man's nephews made criminal complaints that he sexually abused them over a four-year period in the 1980s and 1990s.

The alleged victims are now adults. They have given detailed statements about the abuse and have provided hundreds of alleged examples of abuse.

Gardaí have provisionally charged the man with 77 counts but have hundreds of other cases if he decides to plead not guilty to the sample counts.

He has been released on bail and the case will be sent forward to the Circuit Criminal Court for trial, probably next year.

Details of the man's age, college and academic field cannot legally be revealed to protect the identity of his alleged victims.

He is well-known and respected in international circles and his work has been cited as having paved the way for significant changes in his field.