Fr. Paul McGennis
Ex-priest apologises to woman for ‘torture’ of sexual abuse
A COURT has heard an apology from a 79-year-old former priest to a woman for the “torture” of sexual abuse he subjected her to from the age of 11.
Paul McGennis, of Holy Cross Diocesan Centre, Clonliffe Road, Dublin, 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. Judge Desmond Hogan remanded McGennis on continuing bail and will sentence him at the end of the month. The court heard the abuse took place in the priest’s house in one Dublin parish and continued after he moved to another in the city.
Sgt Brian Lyons told Martina Baxter, prosecuting, that the ex-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. The woman said the abuse continued because she was a child and was scared.
She would “get messages” for McGennis and the abuse began when she was late returning on one occasion and he “gave out” to her. The abuse would take place almost every fortnight in the bedroom of the parish house and in a waiting room. When she would return from running errands a housekeeper would let her in and although not in the same room, was often present in the house while the abuse took place.
Sgt Lyons said the girl would be crying during the abuse as McGennis was hurting her and she could not breathe as she was asthmatic. She would ask him to stop but he continued. 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.
McGennis was called to the witness box by Luan Ó Braonain SC, defending, where he apologised for the “torture” he had put her 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. For that early denial I apologise profoundly to the family.” In her 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”. The abuse continued to threaten her marriage and denied her the chance to have children. It left her without self-esteem or the ability to form and maintain relationships.
The court heard McGennis is co-operating with a Garda investigation launched as a result of the Murphy report. It was clarified that this ongoing investigation was not connected to McGennis. The woman said she lived in fear of the priest, who had threatened that her family would be expelled from the church if she told anyone.
The court heard McGennis 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 in 1960. On June 27th, 1997, he was sentenced for two indecent assaults occurring between 1977 and 1979 and received nine months concurrent to the other sentences. He appealed these sentences and served nine months for the offences.