Priest Sex Trial: 'Abuse Made Me Feel like Pervert'

The Sentinel
January 25, 2012

MEN who claim they were sexually abused by a priest when they were young boys have told how respected he was in their community.

Catholic priest Alexander Bede Walsh is on trial accused of 27 counts of sexual abuse on eight boys over a 20-year period.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard yesterday from three of the alleged victims, none of whom can be named for legal reasons.

They say the 58-year-old, pictured, known to them at the time as Father Bede, was seen as a 'father figure and guardian' to them.

The first alleged victim came into contact with Walsh in a children's home.

He told police that nuns and priests at the home were like their new parents and told the court: "They were the only people we could look up to."

The man claims he often saw Walsh in rooms alone with boys and on one occasion touched his private areas above his clothes.

Walsh denies all the charges, which include indecency and indecent assault and says the allegations have been made up.

A second witness told the court yesterday that Walsh was 'very popular' when he became a priest at his local church.

He said Walsh, who also served as a priest in Cheadle for 14 years, befriended his family.

The witness said Walsh would try to touch his crotch area when tickling him and made another attempt while he was ill in bed once.

Other claims relate to alleged activities during swimming trips.

The witness told the court Walsh would indecently assault him in the pool and claims pictures were taken of boys in states of undress in the changing rooms.

The man said the incidents left him angry and frustrated because he didn't think anyone would listen to him if he said anything.

He said he told a friend's parents about his concerns years later but was told to 'shut up and not tell such horrible tales'.

Robert Price, prosecuting, asked the man what effect the incidents had upon him.

He replied: "When you lose your sexual innocence at such an early age it is something you can't get back.

"I lost my teenage years because of what happened, I couldn't interact with girls and I felt like a pervert myself."

The third alleged victim described Walsh, of Church Lane, Abbots Bromley, near Rugeley, as a "nice, gentle, kind man".

But he claims Walsh indecently assaulted him in his bedroom on a number of occasions while he was off school sick.

At the time, he felt "honoured" to be touched by what he thought was the hand of God and said he thought it put him "on the path to God".

The trial was due to continue with his evidence today.

The incidents allegedly took place between July 1974 and December 1994.


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