Belfast Telegraph

Paedophile priest given four years for abusing sisters

By Michael Donnelly

Pervert priest Fr Eugene Lewis, unanimously convicted of sexually abusing three sisters, was jailed for four years yesterday.

The priest abused the siblings as children in their Co Fermanagh home in a litany of attacks going back almost 50 years.

He was also placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for life.

The 76-year-old former head of the White Fathers, who was based at their headquarters in Dublin, still maintains his innocence.

In a statement issued through his solicitor outside Belfast's Laganside Court, the paedophile priest claimed that his Co Tyrone trial in Omagh Crown Court was a “miscarriage of justice”.

His solicitor Joe McVeigh said the priest intended to continue to fight the 11 charges of indecent assault against the sisters when they were aged between seven and 13, “to the last drop of his blood to establish his innocence completely”.

Mr McVeigh added that “very many people from all over the world have expressed their outrage at his conviction and that he took great comfort from knowing that he has their support”. During his six-week trial the court heard that Father Lewis had also allegedly raped one of the girls in the White Fathers' Dublin headquarters, not once but twice.

She had been sent there by her parents to be counselled by Father Lewis because she was having an affair with a married policeman.

The priest also allegedly interfered with the eldest sister in the White Fathers' seminary in Blacklion, just across the border from her Co Fermanagh home where her siblings were being abused.

Sentencing him yesterday, Judge Philip Babington said that these alleged incidents could be considered as “background information,” and made it clear that “this court does not take those alleged matters into account in this sentencing process”.

Judge Babington, who also disqualified Father Lewis from working with children or vulnerable adults, said the impact on his three victims had been immense and one of them, in the words of one doctor, had been “chronically and deeply affected”.

The court had heard that the abuse lasted from August 1963 until September 1973.

He often visited the girls’ home at bedtime or on Saturday bath-night and even abused one girl in front of her father, his actions hidden by a large kitchen table.

He often abused the girls while telling them bedtime stories.

Fr Lewis was given sentences ranging from 15 to 18 months on each of 11 charges.

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