July 2011

Justice finally catches up with disgraced paedophile priest (81)

HE knew that, as a priest, his word would never be questioned and this allowed him to continue abusing children for more than 30 years.

Serial sex abuser Fr Paul McGennis (81) was yesterday jailed for two years for the indecent assault of a young parishioner in the early 1980s.

The now 42-year-old woman, who was aged just 11 when the abuse began, was in court to see the disgraced priest sentenced. She had requested that he be publicly named.

The Circuit Criminal Court heard how her life had been torn apart by the abuse, which took place almost every fortnight in the bedroom of the parish house and in a waiting room over a period of four years.

She had twice attempted suicide.

Yesterday she was hugged by family members as she saw her abuser taken away to begin his prison term.

A frail looking McGennis sat with his eyes closed throughout the hearing as Judge Desmond Hogan described how he had let both himself and the church down in the gross abuse of his young victim.

He said the “ripples of such an offence were wide and far-reaching” as evidenced in the “harrowing” victim-impact statement read to the court on the last day of the hearing.

McGennis, of Holy Cross Diocesan Centre, Clonliffe Road in Dublin 3, pleaded guilty to eight sample counts of indecent assault on the victim at two locations in the city between June 1980 and May 1984.

Sentencing him to six years, with four years suspended, Judge Hogan said he would have imposed a lengthier sentence but for McGennis’s age and ill-health and the fact that he had made a “substantial” offer of compensation to his victim in settlement of her civil proceedings.

The court heard that while McGennis had pleaded guilty, he initially denied the allegations when interviewed by gardai in 2009.

Judge Hogan said there were certain aggravating factors that the court could not ignore, including that McGennis, as a priest, was in a position of trust.

“Taking into account the time at which these offences were committed, (McGennis) must have known he was taking advantage of the fact his word would never be questioned and that placed additional trauma on the injured party.


“She felt she wasn’t going to be believed because of the position that the defendant held within society,” he added.

He said the offences were committed with the “basest of motives — namely selfish and uncaring sexual gratification”.

Judge Hogan said the defendant was in the twilight of his years and that he had recognised his wrongs, albeit late in the day.

He was suspending the final four years of the sentence on the condition that McGennis abide by requirements already set out by Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin.

These include not celebrating Mass publicly, having no unsupervised contact with minors and having no direct contact with any of his victims.

Explaining his decision, Judge Hogan said: “It may seem odd for a court to intrude into certain religious matters . . . but it appears to me all these conditions are conditions imposed to ringfence the defendant so that the likelihood of him having contact with minors is greatly diminished.”