Woman abused by Smyth awarded £25,000


A woman who was abused by the paedophile priest, Brendan Smyth, for nine years has been awarded £25,000 compensation. The abuse began when she was six years old, 30 years ago, when she was being cared for in a Catholic Church-run orphanage. The woman, now 36, is married and lives in Dungannon, Co Tyrone. She cannot be named to protect her identity.

The assaults began in 1968, a year after she arrived in Nazareth House, Ormeau Road, Belfast, following her mother's death. Over the next nine years she was subjected to repeated indecent assaults by Smyth. Her complaints were ignored and she was compelled to kneel all night and pray for forgiveness, according to a statement of claim before the High Court in Belfast yesterday.

The statement said: "She was made to scrub and wax floors and was beaten when she cried. She had her hair shaved and had her head scrubbed with a brush and disinfectant until her head became raw. She was struck with a bunch of keys and severely beaten when she escaped from Nazareth House."

The woman's action was against Father Gerard Cusack, administrator of Smyth's order, the Norbertine Canons, of Kilnacrot, Co Cavan, and Sister Mary Conleth, on behalf of the Order of the Sisters of Nazareth. Smyth, who was 70 when he died in the Curragh prison last August, was also named as a defendant along with the Eastern Health and Social Services Board and the former Catholic primate of Ireland, Dr Cahal Daly, on behalf of the Catholic Church.

The woman claimed exemplary and aggravated damages because at the time of the assaults she was a child and was dependent on the defendants for protection. It was claimed they failed to have any regard to her complaints about Smyth and permitted him to have regular and intimate contact with children after his proclivities were known.

The nine years of sexual abuse left the woman suffering from a psychiatric condition and led her to contemplate suicide, according to the court papers. "She has a severe personality disorder and will require prolonged counselling and is liable to be severely affected on a permanent basis."

The action was listed to last two days but was settled out of court. Her counsel, Mr Patrick Good, told Mr Justice Coghlin the agreed damages were against the Norbertine Canons and the Sisters of Nazareth. He said judgment had already been marked against Smyth and asked for judgment to be entered in favour of the Eastern Health Board and Dr Daly.