Four men abused as teenagers by Waterford sports coach Bill Kenneally have welcomed the 14 year sentence handed down to him and said they hoped it will make it easier for others abused by him to come forward and contact gardai.
Jason Clancy, Colin Power, Kevin Keating and Barry Murphy were among ten boys abused by Kenneally during a four year period in the 1980s.
Jason Clancy, who triggered the garda investigation into the abuse in 2012 when he discovered that Kenneally was still involved with an underage basketball club in Waterford, said it was good to see his abuser taken away in handcuffs.
“I think it’s fair to say that at some stage all of us here were put in handcuffs by Kenneally when he abused us so it was good to see him being taken from the courtroom in handcuffs – that image of him in handcuffs is one that will replace some of the other images of him I have in my mind.”
“Writing those victim impact statements were very difficult for all of us – it was very tough but I am very happy that the judge paid so much attention to them and gave them the respect that they deserved when it came to sentencing – I think justice has been done today.”
Kenneally admitted to gardai when they searched his house under warrant in December 2012 that he had abused around 20 boys andon Friday the four men urged anyone else who feels they can come forward about their abuse to do so.
Colin Power said Judge Eugene O’Kelly’s sentence marked a good day not just for the survivors of Kenneally’s abuse but also their families including spouses, children and parents who had travelled a long and often painful journey with them because of the abuse.
“I wouldn’t try to put pressure on anybody to come forward if they didn’t want to because there are a multitude of reasons why people feel it would be better not to come forward and I know how hard it can be, but I genuinely think from my own experience it would help them to come forward.
“If you said to me ‘this is what you need to do to get some closure’, I would have said ‘No way’ but I can say now that for me, it hasn’t stopped the hurt and the pain but it’s gone a huge way towards helping me to deal with it. I don’t have shame about it and I’m not smothered with guilt anymore.”
Kevin Keating said it was a rollercoaster emotionally listening to Judge O’Kelly list out both the aggravating and mitigating factors in relation to Kenneally’s offending but he believed the judge had got it right in his sentence and he urged others to take encouragement from it.
“I think the most satisfying thing about today if I can use that word is I hope the people who didn’t feel they could come forward but wanted to come forward will realise that there is support available for them and we saw that here today when justice was done,” he said.
Barry Murphy said he has struggled for the past 30 years since he was abused by Kenneally but being with his fellow survivors to see justice finally done had given him tremendous strength.
“Part of me is still a little bit in shock because I never thought this day would come but I did not want this man hidden and that’s why I waived my right to anonymity – I want people to know where he came from and know him for what he really is.”