Suspended term for priest who abused teen
By Liam Heylin
November 13, 2010
A PRIEST who removed the clothes and touched the genitals of a teenage boy at Confession has been given an 18-month suspended sentence.
Brendan Wrixon, 74, was a priest in North Cork at the time and was acting as confessor during a religious workshop organised in Mallow by the Diocese of Cloyne.
Judge Seán O Donnabháin judge said to Wrixon: “You violated not only the laws of the country, but your own religious view and whatever tenets you believed in. I hope that the exposure of the offence and all the evidence will be a vindication of the victim.
“You have acknowledged publicly that you wronged him, you are no longer a priest and rightly so, you don’t deserve to be one.”
The judge took into consideration the defendant’s age, his full co-operation with the investigation, the treatment he began to take more than five years ago when the complaint was first made, and reports from experts that he is at low risk of re-offending and is living alone with his life ruined.
In reference to the media coverage of the case, defence senior counsel Tim O’Leary said Wrixon was facing a firestorm. Mr O’Leary said that the defendant had admitted to sexual incidents between himself and the victim other than that about which the complaint was made.
Wrixon was sentenced on the charge to which he pleaded guilty – committing an offence of gross indecency with a male person on a date between October 1982 and February 1983.
Prosecution barrister Donal McCarthy responded to a question from the judge about possible complaints by others being in the background for Wrixon, saying: “We have no reason to believe there are, according to the State’s state of knowledge.”
Detective Garda Coleman Murphy said that when Fr Wrixon was hearing the teenager’s Confession, he removed the boy’s clothes, touched his genitals and kissed him on the lips.
When Fr Wrixon was questioned about the allegation, he told the detective that there had been mutual masturbation between himself and the complainant on six or seven occasions.
One incident occurred in the sacristy of a church, another on a lonely road near the teenager’s house. “The victim alleges about 20 incidents of a sexual nature, some of them involved having to perform oral sex on Fr Brendan Wrixon,” Det. Garda Murphy said.
The maximum possible sentence for the offence to which Wrixon pleaded guilty was two years’ imprisonment.
‘Abuse has cast a dark shadow over my life’
THE victim of Fr Brendan Wrixon’s sexual abuse feels the Church was more interested in protecting the institution than helping him.
“It has taken me over 20 years to break the silence, such was the deep shame I felt about the abuse. All of these have been filled with struggle and pain on a number of levels. In important ways my life has been on hold.
“The truth is that I was sexually abused by Brendan Wrixon when I was a teenager. I was wronged in a very serious way. He was the adult and I was the young teenager. He should have known better. As a priest his role was to be a guide and witness to Christian values.
“I and my family have felt deeply hurt and impacted by his behaviour. We have also felt deeply hurt and let down by our clergy, especially those in positions of responsibility who were unwilling to understand or listen to me or respond in any meaningful way to what I needed for my healing and wellbeing.
“Their response was about protecting the institution rather than the individual. I believe that the Gospel message and its values were ignored. I had to fight for the truth to be heard. The Church that stood for truth didn’t help me.
“There are some people even today who still refuse to believe what happened to me – such is the power of denial around issues of sexual abuse.
“The abuse has cast a dark shadow over my life, it has affected my confidence and my emotional wellbeing. It has taken me a long time to find my own voice again. The experience of abuse has affected my concentration, made me feel isolated and has left me with an awful sense of shame about what has happened. Close personal relationships continue to be a problem area in my life.
“I have been attending a counsellor for the last five years and continue to do so, deep hurt and broken trust takes a long time to recover from.
“Finally, I would like to thank my family, close friends, my counsellor and the Gardaí for all their support and help over the years. I would never wish for anyone to go through the events that I have experienced but thank God, the truth is heard, witnessed and acknowledged in this court room here today.”
This statement was read in court by Detective Garda Coleman Murphy on behalf of the victim.