Sunday 11 December 2016

Priest (76) is jailed for abuse of sisters

Published 03/09/2010 | 05:00

A CATHOLIC priest was jailed yesterday for indecently assaulting three sisters at their home in Northern Ireland more than 40 years ago, after he had befriended their parents.

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At the time, Fr Eugene Lewis, now aged 76, was based at the College of the Society of Missionaries of Africa -- also known as the Order of the White Fathers -- in Blacklion, Co Cavan. He abused the young girls in Co Fermanagh between 1963 and 1973.

Lewis had denied 11 charges of indecent assault but a jury at Omagh Crown Court on Co Tyrone unanimously found him guilty at the end of a six-week trial in May. At that time, he was living in Dublin.

Appeal

He was sentenced to four years in prison yesterday in Belfast. Immediately afterwards, his legal representative said he would be appealing the conviction.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Babington said Lewis was introduced to the family by a fellow cleric who was related to them.

Lewis would from time to time call at the family farm and would spend time with the girls, telling them stories.

The judge said the sisters did not tell each other or anyone else of the offences at the time.

They told the court they did not feel able to say anything because the White Fathers were revered by their parents.

However, one of the sisters subsequently made a complaint to the police. Her sisters became aware of this and did likewise.

Lewis consistently denied all the allegations and suggested that they were motivated by a family conspiracy or compensation claims.

He claimed in a pre-sentence report that his visits to the family home were "primarily to visit the girls' father, acknowledge the children, tell a story, have a cup of tea and go".

Irish Independent

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