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Priest’s self-pitying ‘sorry’ just added insult to injury

A re-creation of the letter of apology sent by the priest to his alleged victimTHE child-sex abuse victim today said the letter of apology she received from her abuser added “insult to injury”.

She was given the handwritten note — dated June 16, 2000 — in December of the same year after a secret £12,000 out-of-court settlement with the Church.

The alleged abuser writes in the one-page letter: “They haven’t been easy years for either of us but you, because of your youth, have felt a keener pain.”

Referring to the hospitality shown to him by her unsuspecting family, the priest continues: “The loss of that friendship in August 1990 has been a source of sadness to me ever since.”

By way of apology he adds: “Now as I grow into pension years and feel the insecurity of uncertain health, I am anxious to offer you and your extended family my deepest apology for any pain I caused you through inappropriate gesture or mistaken signs of affection.

“I am supported by a diocesan stipend which doesn’t leave room for even little luxuries. I regret the pain and distress I brought to you and ask you for some forgiveness.”

However, his alleged victim told the Belfast Telegraph: “I felt sick when I read that letter. It was short on sorry for what he did to me, but filled with self-pity.”

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She added: “A mistaken sign of affection would make anyone think it was something innocent, but that man abused me over and over again and his letter did nothing but add insult to injury.”

Eileen Calder, head of the Belfast Rape Crisis Centre, also blasted the letter.

She said: “This letter is by no stretch of the imagination an apology. It is disgraceful that the Church accepted it as such.

“It is, in fact, a total denial of a serious indecent assault, which in present legislation would be defined as rape.

“How dare this alleged sex-offender, who has evaded justice, claim that the victim ‘misinterpreted’ his ‘signs of affection’ — the details of his offence against an innocent and vulnerable child would be too graphic and disturbing for a family newspaper.

“He then has the audacity to look for sympathy for his ailing health and to add insult to injury by complaining about poverty, talking about his ‘small stipend’ from the Church.”

She added: “Has he given a thought to the health of his victim? Or for her financial position? No.

“Sexual abuse destroys lives, has long-term effects on physical and emotional health and, on a practical level, can interfere with education and later earning power.

“Has he been defrocked, or had his powers to say Mass and perform the Sacraments taken away from him? Probably not.

“Survivors and their supporters have had more than they can stomach from this hypocritical, lying institution.”

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