Sex Abuse Priest Gets 12-Year Prison Sentence
'I'm an Evil, Sick, Cunning and Sneaky Man'

Belfast Telegraph [Northern Ireland]
November 13, 2004

A self-confessed "evil, sick, cunning, sneaky" priest who sexually abused youngsters, including a brother and sister, has been jailed for 12 years.

Fr Michael Gerard McQuillan, who admitted a total of 40 sex charges involving his five victims between December 1986 and January 1993, was also put on the sex offenders' register for life.

The 43-year-old former Co Armagh school chaplain, whose address was given as Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey in Portglenone in Co Antrim, listened with his head bowed yesterday as Newry Crown Court Judge McKay described his as "a sad and difficult case".

Judge McKay said the "absence of any criminal record is a mitigating factor of small quantity when dealing with a case of such a serious nature.

"This is a sad case of a man who has probably done much good in the community. It is a difficult case and these are serious offences which rightly alarm and disturb the public," he said.

However, Judge McKay said there were many aggravating factors, not least his "position of power and authority, the youth of his victims and their deliberate seduction and corruption, the length of the period of abuse, the betrayal of the trust of the parents and the effect on his victims' health".

Earlier his victims listened as defence QC John Orr apologised unreservedly on behalf of McQuillan, whose days in the priesthood were now over.

"At the outset, acting on my client's instructions, conscious of the fact his victims are in court, my client wishes to apologise unreservedly for the conduct he subjected each and every one of them too over a number of years," said Mr Orr.

When the case first came to court in March last year, McQuillan faced only three charges of indecent assault involving one victim.

However, the publicity over the prosecution led to another victim, then a brother and sister also came forward, until on the advice of his lawyers, McQuillan confessed to sexually abusing a fifth victim.

Since that time, Mr Orr, said the priest had gained a greater insight to the harm he had caused and "now appreciates how he was manipulating and dealing with his victims".

In the last of his police confessions McQuillan said that while he never used violence, that did not make what he did right and went on to described himself as being "cunning and sneaky".

McQuillan said he had been "behaving crazy", before telling police: "It was still very evil the way I operated and what I did, and was quite sick"


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