Priest jailed for child sex abuse

 

A priest (79) has been sentenced to jail today for sexually abusing a woman in Dublin in the 1980s.

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.

He was this morning sentenced to six years in prison, with the final four years of that suspended due to his age and health, the guilty plea entered, and a financial contribution he made to his victim.

Announcing sentencing, Judge Desmond Hogan noted that the defendant had earlier this month apologised to his victim for the "torture" he had put her through thereby meaning that a lengthy trial was avoided.

However, Judge Hogan added that given the seriousness of the case a custodial sentence was unavoidable.

"This was sexual abuse of a young girl in her formative years by somebody in a position of trust...he must have known he was taking advantage and that his word would not be questioned. This caused additional trauma to the victim because she felt she wouldn't be believed because of the defendant's position in society," he said.

The court heard earlier this year that the abuse began when the girl was about 11 years of age and took place in the priest’s house in one Dublin parish and continued after he moved to another in the city.

The 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.

She complained to gardaí a number of 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 and earlier this month apologised to the woman for what he had done.

Judge Hogan said today that in passing sentence he had taken into consideration the victim impact statement of the woman, which he said had made "harrowing reading."

In her victim impact statement, the victim said McGennis had “taken away my innocence, my childhood memories, my chance of an education and my prospects for the future”.

She added that the abuse had continued to threaten her marriage and denied her the chance to have children and that it had left her without self-esteem or the ability to form and maintain relationships.

The court heard McGennis, who was previously chaplain to Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin, has four previous convictions for indecent assault and has served a prison sentence.

On June 24th, 1997, he was sentenced to 18 months for two indecent assaults for an offence in 1960 and received an 18-month sentence.

On June 27th, 1997, he was sentenced for two indecent assaults occurring between May 1977 and 1979 and received nine months concurrent to the other sentences. He appealed these sentences and served nine months for the offences.

The Judge ordered that McGennis enter into a bond to be of good behaviour and also abide by conditions laid down by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmaid Martin for the period of the suspended sentence.

He continues to be a priest but has been out of ministry since 1997.