Belfast Telegraph

Victim reveals his abuse by priest during confession at Newry school

By Stewart Robson

A man has told how he was sexually abused as a child by a priest under the guise of him conducting confessions.

In an emotional interview, the victim, who used the name Paul, said he was abused by Father Seamus Reid at St Joseph's Boys' High School in Newry.

He said the sustained weekly abuse lasted for more than three years.

Paul, now 68, was only 11 when his ordeal began. He described events on Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show.

"I remember being sent out to confession in a store room and there were older boys there, and they were pushing us in rather than going in themselves, and I remember very vividly the first time I went in," he said. "There was bright sunlight streaming through the window and he was sitting with his back to the window, but the glare of the sun made him look like a silhouette to me."

Paul said that Reid - who died in 2001 - started to ask graphic questions regarding his sexual experiences as well as about his interests in girls. He said the priest then abused him.

In 2015 the Catholic Church confirmed that 11 allegations had been made against Fr Reid since 1997.

Further allegations have been made regarding clerical abuse in St Joseph's and at St Colman's College in the city in recent months concerning Reid and paedophile priest Malachy Finnegan.

Paul said that Reid touched him in private areas and kissed him on the head.

He added: "He got self-satisfaction out of it. Whenever I used to go into a store room, I put a chair up against the handle of the door and jammed the door closed thinking that he wouldn't get me."

He said he was so traumatised by the abuse that he never talked about what had happened.

"I was afraid to tell anybody about it," he added.

"My mother and father were very, very religious people and priests were a common sight in our house. The local clergy would have been in and out of our house several times a week. I knew them as friends but then became afraid of them."

He broke down in tears as he said: "I couldn't tell my father, I thought he'd say I was making it up. He probably wouldn't have, but I didn't know that."

As a way of coping with what happened Paul always denied being a pupil of St Joseph's until out socialising with his cousin.

He explained: "He (his cousin) went away off and came back with this man. He asked if I remembered him. I looked at him in horror because he was the lad I used to sit beside at school. All my life I had denied I was ever there. I didn't want my wife to think what a liar I was. I broke down and told her.

"I've lost my faith. I can't pray to God any more. I've lost all respect. I'm totally disgusted. My faith has practically gone."

In a statement given to The Nolan Show, St Joseph's said: "The community of St Joseph's Boys' High School offer our sympathy to anyone who has suffered from abuse."

The school said it would encouraging people to go to the police and added that it would be inappropriate for it to comment further at this time.

Belfast Telegraph

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