Priest jailed for sexual abuse of boys

By Tomás Mac Ruairi
Irish Examiner
July 16, 1998

A former director of vocations for the Holy Ghost Fathers, who sexually abused two young boys, has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years by Judge Cyril Kelly at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

One of the victims was abused by Fr Gus Griffin in the order's headquarters, Kimmage Manor, Dublin, after the boy expressed an interest in joining the order.

Fr Griffin (76), c/o Kimmage Manor, Dublin, pleaded guilty last May to four sample charges relating to offences on dates from 1976 to 1983 at different places within the State.

Judge Kelly imposed a four-year sentence on a charge of indecently assaulting a then 10-year-old victim on a date between January and May, 1976. He also imposed a four-year sentence for indecently assaulting a teenage boy on a date from June 30 to August 1, 1981; and one year for committing an act of gross indecency with him on a date between April 30 and September 30, 1982.

He imposed a seven-and-a-half term for buggery of the same victim on a date between April 26 and September 30, 1983. All the sentences are to run concurrently and to start immediately. The State entered a nolle prosequi on other charges on the indictment.

Prosecuting counsel Mary Ellen Ring BL said the victims had no objections to Fr Griffin being named in media reports. The court heard that media exposure of the late Fr Brendan Smyth case led to the complaints being made about Fr Griffin.
Both victims were very concerned that other young boys had been abused by Fr Griffin and had never reported it.

Neither victim had ever had professional counselling for the sexual abuse and, in one case, the victim's family was unaware of it.

Fr Griffin, a native of Limerick city, was a former editor of 'Outlook' and former director of vocations for Holy Ghost Order. He was ordained in 1955 and spent a number of years as a missionary in Sierra Leone until he had to return home due to ill-health.

Garda Margaret Morrell said the first victim had lived near Kimmage Manor and his family went to Mass there. He and other young people played in the Manor grounds and he got to know the defendant that way.

Garda Morrell said the second victim lived outside the jurisdiction and got to know Fr Griffin through another Holy Ghost priest who gave a mission in his area. He wrote to the Order and a correspondence began with Fr Griffin as the youth believed he would like to join the Order.

Fr Griffin invited this victim to come to Kimmage Manor to see what life as a member of the Holy Ghost order was like. The first offence of indecent assault happened in Kimmage Manor in the summer of 1981.

The gross indecency offence happened in a carpark in the summer of 1982 on a second visit by the victim to Fr Griffin who invited him out on a car tour of the Dublin area.

The buggery offence happened when Fr Griffin invited the victim to his home in Limerick and got into bed with him. The victim clearly recalled being very sore afterwards and feeling he just wanted to die.

Garda Morrell said Fr Griffin made a full statement when she met him. He fully accepted the allegations made by the victims, even in cases where he could not recall the events. Fr Griffin admitted he began interfering sexually with young boys around the early 1970s and this continued to about 1986.

Garda Morrell said the defendant indicated he was sincerely remorseful for his actions. He was now living in an enclosed order. He had no previous convictions.

Defence counsel Michael McMahon SC (with Isobel Kennedy BL) said Fr Griffin had asked him to express publicly, at this first opportunity, his sorrow and despair for the damage he caused his victims.

Consultant psychiatrist Brian McCaffrey said he believed Fr Griffin would "go rapidly downhill" if sent to jail.

He felt embarrassment and shame in telling of his sexual activities with young boys, which began late in his life.

Dr McCaffrey said he was satisfied Fr Griffin had no longer any sexual urges towards young boys. With his present living conditions and continued counselling, he didn't represent any danger to young boys.

Judge Kelly said that despite Fr Griffin's age and his frailty, he could get the necessary medical treatment in custody. While he had suffered a lot of ill-health, he was in reasonably good health at the moment. He refused leave to appeal the sentence.





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