Former priest gave boy alcohol in parochial house and abused him

February 3, 2021

A former priest has admitted giving a 13-year-old boy alcohol before sexually assaulting him in a parochial house in Co Donegal.

The priest has since been laicized after a complaint was made to Church authorities about his behaviour.

The man, who is in his late 60s, pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual assault between December 13th, 1984 and December 13th, 1985 when he appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

The victim in the case made a statement of complaint to Gardai on April 18th, 2017 and a full investigation was launched.

The man told how he had visited Letterkenny with the priest and another boy and had returned home to their parish before the priest dropped the other boy home.

At the time boys would stay over at the parochial house and their parents knew and trusted the priest.

The victim revealed how the priest, who was in his 30s, gave Smithwicks and also whiskey when they returned to the sitting room of the parochial house.

He then said he remembers waking up naked in the bed with the priest next to him naked and he remembered that he was sexually assaulted.

The man’s lengthy and heartwrenching victim impact statement was read out in court by his adult daughter.

In it, he told how his faith was so important to him as a child and for a person who was supposed to be beyond reproach to groom him for the purpose of abusing him made him lose trust in the church.

He said he has not been able to fulfil his role as a father, friend or husband and that this all stemmed from the “sick actions” of this priest.

He added that he felt trapped and suffered from depression and has always felt trapped “like a frightened child.”

He said he can still hear the priest breathing on him and the stubble on his face which he said haunts him when he hears his wife breathing beside him at night.

The man said he tried to report the matter when he was younger but nobody listened to him and that he has since tried to take his own life.

He suffered what he thought was two strokes but they were seizures brought on by the stress of reliving what had happened to him.

He now goes to weekly counselling sessions which he has to pay for privately adding that he now remembers everything that happened to him each night.

Barrister for the accused, Mr Shane Costello SC, said the accused now lives outside of Donegal and almost lives a “hermit-like’ existence.

He said he is deeply sorry for what he did and that he understands the trauma and the stress he caused and accepts full responsibility for it.

He also penned a letter to his victim in which he states that the situation was all his fault and it had nothing to do with his victim.

He also promised his victim that he has learned from what he has done and that his abusive behaviour will never happen again.

Barrister Shane Costello said that the accused man’s vocation was the most important thing in his life and because of what he did, that was taken from him before saying this was not anybody else’s but his own.

He added that the various reports on the priest placed him between a low risk of reoffending and a modest risk of reoffending but added that he has not reoffended in 33 years since.

“He is not a man likely to commit any further crime. I think you can take the view he is of low risk,” added Mr Costello.

Judge John Aylmer asked what the tariffs were in the case and was told the maximum penalty was ten years in prison.

He adjourned the case until Thursday for a final settlement of sentencing.



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