A former Catholic priest, who confessed to sexually assaulting two altar boys in the sacristy of a Co Cork church over 20 years ago, has been imprisoned for 12 months.
Patrick Crowley, 62, with an address at Cuan Mhuire, Athy, Co Kildare, admitted sexually assaulting one boy on six occasions and the second boy on three occasions on dates between September 1989 and June 1990.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court was told the abuse took place after morning mass.
One victim described what happened to him as his “dirty secret”.
He said it changed him from a happy go-lucky, carefree boy, to a cagey, secretive one.
He recalled his gut-wrenching fear and anxiety and said he felt he was being preyed upon and actively hunted.
In his victim impact statement read to the court, he said he wrote to the Diocese of Cork & Ross in 1999 about the abuse.
However, it was almost a decade later before the letter was passed on to gardaí.
The second victim said he made a complaint to gardaí following the publication of the Murphy Report and on becoming a father himself.
Crowley apologised to his victims, saying it was a terrible betrayal of trust.
He said it was not until the clerical sex abuse scandal in recent times that he fully appreciated the long-term consequences of what he did.
Sentencing him to 12 months in prison, Judge Patrick Moran said the victims’ innocence was greatly interfered with and it is fortunate that they have been able to move on with their lives.
The court was told that Crowley left his ministry in 1994 and was laicised in 2002
A former priest was sentenced to eight months in jail this afternoon for sexually assaulting an altar boy on a number of occasions in the church sacristy as soon as Sunday mass ended.
Patrick Crowley, aged 52, who is originally from Carrignavar in Co Cork, was a priest in Ballincollig parish church in Cork at the time of the offences which date back to 1988 and 1989.
The altar boy was in sixth class in school and aged around 11.
Crowley now lives at a treatment centre in Cardington, Athy, Co Kildare.
Judge David Riordan described the details of the three counts, to which Crowley pleaded guilty, as vile abuse.
Det Garda Donal O’Connell said, “The offences usually happened after morning mass in the sacristy. He would come up behind the injured party and place his hand inside his top clothes and feel his chest and then put his hand inside his pants and underpants and feel his privates.
“The victim could feel Patrick Crowley’s erect penis rubbing against him at the back. Most of
the incidents happened in the sacristy but there were a number of occasions in the parochial house also.”
While reference was made to multiple incidents, Crowley pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent or sexual assault.
The injured party decided to make a complaint to the gardaí in relation to the matter shortly after his own partner gave birth to a son.
“I felt if what happened to me happened to my son I wouldn’t be able to handle it,” the victim said.
Crowley, who is no longer a priest said, “I think it is horrifyingly sad. I regret it so deeply. Saying sorry is so meaningless, so useless to him (the victim) and his suffering. I will live with his pain and my pain for the rest of my life.”
Crowley pleaded guilty to a similar offence in Ballincollig District Court in 1991, and on that occasion the case was dismissed under the Probation of Offenders Act.
Judge Riordan was concerned to note from a centre for sexual treatment in England that Crowley had to be re-admitted in 1994 after he came to the attention of British police for importuning a minor for sex.