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Priest (75) denies abusing sisters for over a decade

A priest who is facing charges of sexually abusing three sisters from the same Fermanagh family has strenuously denied the allegations.

Following a day of giving evidence on his own behalf at Omagh Crown Court, 75-year-old Fr Eugene Lewis, with an address at Cypress Grove House, Templeogue in Dublin, maintained his innocence.

Fr Lewis, a former provincial superior of the White Fathers, initially told his own defence lawyer Mark Barlow he “never sexually abused anyone”, before repeating the same answer when quizzed by prosecution QC Ken McMahon.

Mr Barlow told Fr Lewis: “The allegation is that you took the opportunity to indecently assault these young girls in their home. Can I ask you again, did you take that opportunity?”

“Certainly, I had the opportunity because I was rubbing shoulders with these people, but I did not take that opportunity, and I never went into that house with any sexual intent,” the priest said.

Fr Lewis told the jury of six men and six women that the context of his infrequent short visits to the girls' home “was totally transparent”.

Asked by Mr Barlow if there was any truth in the claim he raped one sister in the Templeogue headquarters of the Society of Missionaries of Africa, or of indecently assaulting another at the Blacklion seminary in Co Donegal, again the priest denied the allegations.

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“No,” he replied. “They are totally untrue”.

When cross-examined by Mr McMahon for the prosecution, Fr Lewis reiterated his position.

The priest denies a total of 11 counts of indecently assaulting the three sisters between August 1963 and September 1973.

Although accused of raping one girl and abusing another, he is not charged with those offences since they were allegedly committed in the Republic.

The case continues on Friday.

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