Two years in jail for priest over 'torture' of sex abuse

 

A PRIEST who apologised to his victim in court for the “torture” of sexual abuse he subjected her to as a young girl has received a six-year sentence, with the final four years suspended.

Judge Desmond Hogan commented that Paul McGennis (81) had been in a position of trust and “must have known that his word would never be questioned”.

He described the offences as “an exercise in control of a young girl through deceit and the basest of motives, namely selfish and uncaring sexual gratification”.

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 between June 1980 and May 1984.

He has four previous convictions from 1997 for indecent assaults between 1977 and 1979.

The judge said the woman’s “very erudite” victim impact statement made for harrowing reading, and the “ripples” of McGennis’s abuse had affected her relationship with her mother and husband.

He suspended the final four years of the sentence taking into account McGennis’s ill-health, his age, his guilty plea and on condition that he abides by conditions that were laid out in a letter written by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin last year.

The letter states that McGennis is not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly, cannot celebrate other sacraments, can have no unsupervised contact with minors and must avoid direct contact with anyone who has made allegations against him.

He is also prohibited from wearing clerical garments, must co-operate with a priests’ support co-ordinator, attend the Granada Institute and have regular contact with people directed by the archbishop to liaise with him.

Judge Hogan accepted that McGennis has made a “substantial” financial contribution to the victim’s civil proceedings, which have now been settled.

At the sentence hearing earlier this month, McGennis apologised for the “torture” he put his victim through.

“I would like to apologise most sincerely to and her family for the stress and torture I have put them through and for the fact that my initial denials must have made it worse,” he said in the witness box.

Sgt Brian Lyons told Martina Baxter, prosecuting, that McGennis started abusing his victim when she was 11 years old.

He would give the girl sweets, toys and later money after having sex.

The abuse happened almost every fortnight in a parish house bedroom and waiting room, and continued when McGennis moved to a different address.

The woman complained to gardaí a number of years ago after receiving counselling following a suicide attempt.