February 2021

Priest who gave boy, 13, booze before abusing him at parish home jailed

A former priest has been jailed for plying a 13-year-old boy with drink and abusing him at a parochial house.

Eamonn Crossan admitted taking the teenager to the property in Kincasslagh, Co Donegal, and indecently assaulting him.

Judge John Alymer imposed a three-year sentence, the final 12 months of which were suspended.

Crossan, now 69, was placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

Following sentencing, the Diocese of Raphoe released a statement in which Bishop Alan McGuckian apologised to the victim and his family.

It confirmed Crossan was a priest in the diocese from 1976.

He was removed from ministry immediately on receipt of the complaint in 1998 and gardai and the HSE/Tusla were informed.

Bishop McGuckian said: “I am deeply saddened an innocent child had to endure this devastating abuse.

“It is all the more serious that it involved abuse by someone in a position of sacred trust and power.

“I apologise sincerely to the man who suffered and to his family.

“I fully accept that no apology can undo the harm inflicted on an innocent child.

“If anyone else has a concern or complaint, either now or from the past, I encourage them to come forward and contact the diocese and the statutory authorities.”

Crossan appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he admitted a single charge of indecent assault on an unknown date between 1984 and 1985.

The court heard he gave the boy alcohol, including Smithwicks and shots of whiskey. He then woke up in bed beside Crossan, who was 33 at the time. Both were naked.

The court heard the priest had taken over as a father figure to the boy after the recent death of his dad.

The victim, Kevin O’Brien, instructed his solicitor to waive his right to anonymity so that Crossan could be named.

Mr O’Brien was not in court and was represented by his adult daughter who read out his victim impact statement.

He said he has not been able to fulfil his role as a father, friend or husband and this all stemmed from the “sick actions” of the priest.

He has always felt trapped “like a frightened child”.

Mr O’Brien added he tried to report the matter when he was younger but nobody listened to him.

He suffered what he thought were two strokes but they were seizures brought on by the stress of reliving what had happened to him.

Crossan’s barrister Shane Costello SC said the accused now lives outside of Donegal and almost lives a “hermit-like” existence.

Crossan also penned a letter to his victim in which he stated the situation was all his fault and it had nothing to do with his victim.