Woman Denies Making Rape Allegation against Priest to Secure Compensation

The Irish Times
April 27, 2010

Fr Eugene Lewis is on trial for alleged sexual abuse of three sisters between 1963 and 1973. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan

A WOMAN who claims she was raped by a priest whom she thought was going to counsel her about an affair she was having has denied making the allegation to gain compensation.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made the claim against Father Eugene Lewis (75), a member of “the White Fathers”, also known as the Society of Missionaries of Africa.

Fr Lewis, with an address at Cypress Grove House, Templeogue, Dublin, is on trial at Omagh Crown Court, accused of sexually abusing the woman and two of her sisters when they were girls growing up on their family farm in Co Fermanagh between August 1963 and September 1973.

He denies the 11 charges of indecently assaulting the siblings.

Prosecuting QC Ken McMahon told the jury of six men and six women they would hear details of other offences against the priest but he was not charged with any of them since they were allegedly committed in the Republic.

The woman who claimed she was raped by Fr Lewis said she had previously been abused by him aged seven or eight. She told the court she first made a complaint about the alleged abuse to the PSNI in 2008.

Giving evidence yesterday, the woman said the alleged rape took place at the society’s headquarters where she had been sent by her family after they discovered she was having an affair with a married man. Cross-examined yesterday by defence barrister Mark Barlow, she said: “I was devastated over what he had done.”

Mr Barlow asked her why she did not say something to another priest with whom she went for a walk the following day.

She replied: “I didn’t tell him because I was ashamed about what happened.”

She said she had been made to feel ashamed of her relationship with her married lover, and this on top of everything else would have made her out to be “a Jezebel”.

Mr Barlow said that according to her, exactly the same thing happened the following night. Did she not she think of screaming, he asked? “No I didn’t,” she replied.

Mr Barlow asked her whether she had considered using the bed to barricade the door the following night. She said she did not, and that after he raped her that second time she felt: “No one would believe me, that Eugene Lewis would do this to me . . . He was a priest. I was only 21.”

Mr Barlow said Fr Lewis would tell the court that at the time of the alleged rapes, he was looking after his elderly, frail mother.

Mr Barlow suggested the plaintiff was partly motivated by her three applications for compensation. The woman responded: “It has nothing to do with that.”

He said: “Your whole motivation is compensation.”

The woman replied: “That’s not correct. The first thing I said to my solicitor was, this is not about compensation, this is not about money, this is about doing what is right.”


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