A MAN has told how an abusive priest, who was also a family friend, robbed him of his childhood.
Fr Vincent Mercer (66), of Black Abbott, Kilkenny, had caused him "mental pain and torture" and a "living nightmare" which had lasted over 20 years, the victim told Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
"As a young child I was very happy but sadly in 1986 at the tender age of 11 my life changed," he said.
"I was robbed of my childhood – I was abused by a very close family friend, by a Dominican priest Fr Vincent Mercer.
"For over 20 years I have suffered mental pain and torture that Fr Mercer imposed upon me."
The victim told Judge Sean O Donnabhain that he lived in fear of what Mercer would do if he ever told his parents about the abuse.
The victim also told the court that his relatives have shown him great support after he made a statement to the gardai last May.
Garda Caroline Keogh told the court the accused faced a total of 39 charges of sexual assault.
The cleric, who is a member of the Dominican Order, was charged with sexual assault against his victim at various locations in Cork and Limerick between January 1, 1986, and February 22, 1994.
Mercer, who admitted 15 sample counts on the indictment, is a serving member of the Dominican Order though he is not in ministry at the present time.
Mercer, wearing dark tinted glasses, apologised "unreservedly" to his victim for the "terrible hurt" he caused.
Judge O Donnabhain said that he considered Mercer's action to be a "severe breach of trust".
"From the victim impact statement there has been a marked impact on the victim, he is very lucky that he has a very supportive family," said the judge.
The judge imposed a 12-month prison sentence on the counts dealing with the years 1986 to 1991. In relation to the charges between 1991 and 1994, he sentenced the accused to three years' imprisonment with the last 18 months suspended.