Wednesday 18 January 2017

Priest 'profoundly sorry' for abusing girl from age of 11

Assaults took place almost every two weeks in parish house

Dearbhail McDonald and Niamh O'Donoghue

Published 02/07/2011 | 05:00

A PRIEST who apologised directly in court yesterday to the woman he sexually abused from the age of 11 will be sentenced later this month.

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The now 42-year-old woman twice attempted suicide in an effort to deal with a four-year cycle of abuse committed by retired Dublin diocesan cleric Fr Paul McGennis (79).

The married woman, who revealed in a victim impact report that she was worried about how long her husband would stay with her because of the ongoing effects of the abuse, requested that McGennis be publicly identified.

McGennis, of Holy Cross Diocesan Centre, Clonliffe Road, Dublin 3, pleaded guilty to eight sample counts of indecent assault at two locations in the city on dates between June 1980 and May 1984.

He turns 80 next month and is living in the diocese under strict conditions imposed by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

The conditions include that he have no contact with young people.

McGennis was called to the witness box by defence counsel Mr Luan O Braonain, where he apologised.

"I would like to apologise most sincerely to (the victim) and her family for the stress and torture I have put them through and for the fact that my initial denials must have made it worse," he said.

"For that early denial I apologise profoundly to the family," he added.

The Circuit Criminal Court heard McGennis had four previous convictions for indecent assault and had served a prison sentence, and was co-operating with a garda investigation launched as a result of the Murphy report.

Sgt Brian Lyons told the court there were no matters outstanding against the priest.

Fr McGennis was remanded on continuing bail and will be sentenced at the end of the month.

The court heard the abuse took place in the priest's house in one Dublin parish and continued after he moved to another in the city.

Sgt Lyons said the priest would always have chocolate in the house and would give the girl sweets and toys, but when she began to get older he would give her money after having sex with her.

The woman said she lived in fear of the priest, who had threatened that her family would be expelled from the church if she told anyone.

She said she would "get messages" for McGennis and that the abuse began when she was late returning from an errand on one occasion and he "gave out" to her.

The woman said the abuse would take place almost every fortnight in the bedroom of the parish house and in a waiting room.

She said the abuse continued after he moved to a different address.

When she began having her period he started to use condoms.

Sgt Lyons said the girl would cry -- and that she could not breathe as she was asthmatic -- during the abuse. She would ask McGennis to stop but he would continue.

When interviewed by gardai in 2009, McGennis denied the allegations but he pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this year.

Irish Independent

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