Woman ‘felt betrayed by priest’ - court told

editorial image

A woman who claims she was indecently assaulted by a priest as a teenage girl has told a Derry Crown Court jury she felt “totally betrayed”.

The woman, who cannot be identified, was giving evidence at the trial of 66-year-old Fr Eugene Boland.

Fr Boland, whose address was given in court papers as Parochial House, Killyclogher Road, Omagh, denies five charges of indecent assault between June 28, 1990 and June 30, 1992.

It is alleged the abuse took place in the parochial house of St Joseph’s Church, Galliagh, when the complainant was aged around 14-years-old.

Giving evidence yesterday to a Derry Crown Court jury of four men and eight women, the complainant alleged tht Fr Boland phoned her and asked her to help out in the parochial house when she was a teenager.

She said it was her job to answer the phones and take messages when the priests were out of the house. She alleged that, on one occasion, Boland phoned her because he “wanted to hear my voice”.

The complainant told the jury she became friends with Fr Boland and he would tell her about his life growing up in Moville, Co. Donegal, and when he went away to train to be a priest.

She claims that, during one of these conversations, the 66-year-old said it was only after he was ordained and he came to Derry that he saw good looking women and, then, it was “too late”.

The jury also heard an allegation that Fr Boland had told the teen if he was ten years younger and she was ten years older “you would definitely be my type of woman”.

She said she didn’t know what way to take the comment as she thought priests were “special” and “didn’t think like that”.

The woman claimed the priest touched her inappropriately while they were looking through a book of church laws by putting his hand underneath her clothes and rubbing her back.

She said she was “numb, frozen with shock and wanted to squeal and run out of the house” but was afraid to because “I didn’t know what to do or who to tell because, back then, priests were so well-respected”.

The woman also claimed that, in another alleged incident, Fr Boland asked if she was in a sexual relationship with her boyfriend. She alleges he told her that, if she wanted to talk about it, she should come to him in confession because, if she went to someone else, he would be “raging”.

Later the same evening, she claimed the priest kissed her on the lips.

She told the jurors she “absolutely dreaded” going back to her voluntary job in the parochial house after this and always made sure that she “dressed more conservative”.

The jury also heard allegations that, on one occasion, she went into the priests’ living quarters to use the bathroom and, when she came out, Fr Boland was in the room. She claimed he then gave her a “big hug, pushed me towards the wall and practically pinned my head while he kissed me on the lips”.

She claimed that, after this, she did not go back to the parochial house and she felt “totally horrified, hurt and numb. I felt totally betrayed”.

The jury heard the complainant decided to confront the priest about the alleged incidents and spoke to him in the confession box.

She alleged that she was “angry and had my voice raised” while there were about 20 people waiting outside for confession.

The woman told the jury Fr Boland was “patronising to her” and she decided to go back and speak to him again after seeking advice from another priest.

She claimed she suggested that they go to see the bishop and “let him decide who is telling the truth”.

The woman alleged that Fr Boland admitted he had “feelings he shouldn’t have been having for her” and got down on his knees to ask her to forgive him.

However, she told the jury that she replied she wouldn’t forgive him and “his punishment would be not knowing who I told.”

Under cross-examination, the woman said she felt she had been “groomed” by Fr Boland.

The woman said she had kept the alleged incidents “in her heart for 20 years” and when she spoke to the police she was “absolutely horrified. I told the police what I could remember”.

She claimed that she told her parents about the abuse at the time but did not reveal it to the police as she would have been “a disgrace in the parish and it would have been my word against his.”

The complainant said she was brought up to “fear and respect priests” and added she was “only a child and didn’t know how to deal with it”.

However, she claimed she knew what Fr Boland was doing to her “wasn’t right. I didn’t like what he was doing”.

At hearing.