An Irish priest has been found guilty of child sex offences committed in New South Wales over a period of 26 years.
Father Finian Egan was convicted in the Australian District Court on seven counts of indecent assault and one count of rape between 1961 and 1987, while he worked as a priest at two parishes in Sydney and one on the state’s central coast. He was found not guilty on one count of indecent assault.
Egan (78), who worked as a priest and youth worker in several dioceses, was found guilty of repeatedly abusing girls aged 10 to 17.
One attack he was convicted of was the indecent assault of a 10-year-old girl at St Martha’s Institution For Disadvantaged Girls in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt.
“Father Egan pulled me onto his knee, he put his hands up my dress, pulled down my underwear and put his hands into my vagina,” the victim said. “I could feel he had an erection.”
After Egan told the girl she had “beautiful hair”, she asked a nun to cut it off.
“I thought if I didn’t have nice hair he wouldn’t be interested in grabbing hold of me,” she said.
When the victim, who cannot be named, eventually told a nun about the sexual abuse by Egan, she was called a “filthy little liar” and forced to drink several doses of castor oil as punishment.
Another victim told the court of being raped by Egan in a Catholic Church property at The Entrance, on the New South Wales central coast.
“I actually tried to kill myself – I wanted to die,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to make it end. I felt in my heart that the only thing I could do was to kill myself. I was too scared that they wouldn’t believe me. A Catholic priest and a young girl? Back then you never heard about that stuff,” the now 59-year-old woman said.
“I opened the door as the car was going ... He tried to grab hold of me ... He took me in his arms and said he was sorry,” she said.
Egan had denied the allegations against him.
In May 2008 Egan was allowed to go home to Ireland and say Mass, despite allegations of sexual abuse against him. The Irish Catholic Church was not warned about the allegations.
Egan has been released on bail until his sentencing before the end of the year.