Ex-priest’s apology for ‘torture’ of sex abuse

By Niamh O’Donoghue
Irish Examiner
July 2, 2011

[Note: See below for the text of the victim's impact statement.]

A court has heard an apology from a 79-year-old former priest to a woman for the “torture” of sexual abuse he subjected her to from the age of 11.

Paul McGennis: Will be sentenced at the end of July for indecently assaulting a girl from the age of 11. Picture: Courtpix

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

Judge Desmond Hogan remanded McGennis on continuing bail and will sentence him 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.

Sergeant Brian Lyons told Martina Baxter, prosecuting, the ex-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.

The woman said the abuse continued because she was a child and was scared.

She said she would “get messages” for McGennis. 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 and when she began having her period he started to use condoms.

Sgt Lyons said she would cry during the abuse as he was hurting her and she would be unable to breathe as she was asthmatic.

She complained to gardaí several years ago after receiving counselling following a suicide attempt.

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

McGennis was called to the witness box by Luan Ó Braonain, defending, where he apologised for the “torture” he had put her through.

“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.

“For that early denial, I apologise profoundly to the family.”

In her victim impact statement, the victim said he had “taken away my innocence, my childhood memories, my chance of an education and my prospects for the future”. The abuse continued to threaten her marriage and denied her the chance to have children, she said.

The court heard McGennis was co-operating with a Garda investigation that was launched as a result of the Murphy Report.

It was clarified that McGennis was not related to the current charges.

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

The court heard that McGennis has four previous convictions for indecent assault and has served a prison sentence.

‘He has imposed a sentence on me that I will serve until I die’


The following is an edited version of the victim impact statement given by the woman indecently assaulted by former priest Paul McGennis.

I’m doing this impact statement to try, as best I can, to give you some idea of the terrible effects of the years of abuse I suffered at the hands of that man.

The abuse started when I was about 11 years old and went on for years. Right through my late childhood and into my teens, I had to carry the burden of being abused and being afraid to mention it.

From the time the abuse started, I got steadily worse in school. I became more and more disruptive in class. After a while the teachers started to give up on me.

Because of this, I dropped out of school very early and by doing that cut down my chances of getting good jobs.

At the same time, I felt that I grew away from my friends because I had this awful secret that I had to keep hidden. I couldn’t understand or join in when they talked about boyfriends and kissing and cuddling and enjoying it.

At this time, I really blamed my mother for not realising what was happening and putting a stop to it. This resentment lasted for years and still hasn’t completely gone.

Like most young girls, I expected to get married and have children when I grew up. Most of my friends have done this, but when I was being abused this didn’t seem possible for me anymore. This had such an effect on me that I tried to commit suicide in my teens. My behaviour at that time was out of control.

Like most teenagers I started going out with boys, but because of the abuse I thought all boys and men were only after one thing — sex. I had a series of short-term relationships.

After years of boring, repetitive jobs, I realised that I wanted more and was capable of more. With help, I applied for, and got, a job as carer in a major hospital.

Then I received a major shock. I saw in the newspaper that he was charged and sent to jail for sexual abuse. It all came flooding back to me. I found that, in work, I couldn’t deal with anything that was in any way intimate with patients. I became extremely stressed, developed health problems and, after some time, attempted suicide again.

I have been lucky enough to have found a husband who is understanding and supportive. Nevertheless, I worry all the time about how our marriage can last. I find that I’m not capable of any kind of intimacy with my husband, even though I really love him. Any time we try to be intimate, I keep remembering my abuser’s face over me and we have to stop.

Thoughts of my abuse come into my head every day. I’m moody, I get snappy with people, even those very close to me, and I’m almost at the point of believing that I will never have a “normal” life.

He stole my innocence, my childhood, my memories, my chance of an education and prospects for the future. His abuse puts my marriage at risk daily and denies me the chance of children. While I continue to attend counselling, I still question whether life is worth living.

Whatever sentence is imposed on that man, he should realise that he has imposed a sentence on me that I will continue to serve until the day I die.



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