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Alleged Victim Denies Claim Is 'For The Money'

The Impartial Reporter Published: Thursday, 29th April, 2010 10:17am

Image related to story 391336, see caption or article text
Eugene Lewis appearing previously at Enniskillen Court.

A woman who claims she was raped by a priest she thought was going to counsel her about her affair with a married policeman has denied doing it for the money.

The 75-year-old priest, Father Eugene Lewis, is not charged with the rapes because they allegedly took place at a religious seminary in the Republic of Ireland.

Instead he is on trial at Omagh Crown Court accused of indecently assaulting the woman and two of her sisters when they were little girls growing up on the family farm in County Fermanagh between August 1963 and September 1973.

He denies 11 charges.

The jury of six men and six women heard that the priest was a White Father missionary and the woman was staying at the order's seminary at Cypress Grove House at Templelogue in Dublin at the time of the alleged rapes. She had gone there after her family discovered she was having an affair with a married policeman.

The woman gave evidence that Lewis showed her to her room and she began reading a book and that he later came in and said he wanted to talk to her, she assumed about the affair. She said he told her he wanted to give her a hug and she remembered him taking off his belt and it hitting the floor and him getting into bed and raping her.

Cross-examined by defence barrister, Mr. Mark Barlow, BL, she said: "I was devastated over what he had done."

Mr. Barlow asked her why she did not say something to another priest with whom she went for a walk the following day.

She replied: "I didn't tell him because I was ashamed about what happened."

She said she had been made to feel ashamed of her relationship with the policeman "and this on top of everything would have made me out to be a Jezebel".

She added that over the previous weeks she had been made to feel she was a "very bad person". She had no control over her emotions and Lewis took advantage of that.

Mr. Barlow said that according to her, exactly the same thing happened the following night. Didn't she think of screaming?

"No I didn't," she replied.

"I don't have the words to describe how I felt that night. This was a man my parents respected. Who was I to shout and to scream," she stated.

Mr. Barlow asked her if she had considered using the bed to barricade the door the following night.

She said she didn't and that after he raped her for the second consecutive night she did not know where to go or who to turn to. She thought "no-one would believe me, that Eugune Lewis would do this to me.

"He was a priest. I was only 21," she stated.

Mr. Barlow said Lewis would tell the court that at the time in 1978 his mother was getting old and frail and that on returning from a mission to Ghana in 1978 he visited his elderly parents every Wednesday night and stayed with them.

"He never raped you on the Wednesday night, he never raped you on the Thursday night," the lawyer suggested.

The woman replied: "That's not the truth. Eugene Lewis raped me on the Wednesday and Thursday night."

Mr. Barlow told her the priest "denies vehemently" her allegations of abuse.

"I'm not telling lies," the woman stated.

Mr. Barlow suggested she was partly motivated by her three applications for compensation.

The woman responded: "It has nothing to do with that."

The lawyer said: "Your whole motivation is compensation."

The woman replied: "That's not correct. The first thing I said to my solicitor was, this is not about compensation, this is not about money, this is about doing what is right."

Mr. Barlow suggested that the reason Lewis is in the dock is because she did not know him and "because you don't know him it doesn't matter".

The woman replied: "I think that's a dreadful thing to say to me."

One of her sisters told the court that she went to the police after discovering that Lewis was working in a girl's school and she thought he might still be abusing children.

The woman gave evidence that members of the White Fathers were regular visitors to her home when she was growing up. Her parents would have seen these learned and well-travelled men as being really beneficial to the development and education of their children.

She said Lewis would have visited once or twice a year.

"My parents would have welcomed him, not knowing what they were bringing into their home," she stated.

She remembered one occasion when she was seven or eight when Lewis called at the house. She was in bed and two of her sisters were in another bed in the room. Lewis, whom she described as being a very articulate, intelligent, authoritative person with a flair for telling stories, came in and offered to tell them a story.

She told the court that Lewis sat down on her bed and while telling the story put his hand under the blankets and down inside her pants. He began rubbing between her legs and put his fingers inside her.

"I didn't know what it was he was doing," she recalled. "It just felt really bad."

The woman described other occasions when Lewis pulled her over and sat her on his knee. He held her very close to his crotch, moving what she now knows to have been an erection against her hip or thigh.

She said her parents or sisters might have been present in the room but "he was able to conceal what he was doing".

The woman recalled another incident when she was aged between 11 and 13 and was playing with two of her sisters in the grounds of the White Fathers' seminary at Blacklion. Lewis approached them and singled her out, flattering her by telling her she was a very clever girl. He said he knew she liked books and invited her to the library.

She told the jury she was apprehensive but: "I didn't want to be like a baby and just run off."

She said they initially looked at some books but then Lewis went and lay down on a chaise longue in an alcove and beckoned her over. This "physically strong and imposing man" lifted her up and sat her down straddling his private parts.

"He was just writhing about underneath me," she explained. "It continued for what seemed to be an unbearably long time."

Afterwards: "He just lifted me off and I was really mortified about it."

She said it was when she was 15 that she realised the sexual nature of what the priest had been doing.

She went on to get married and have children and the next time she saw Lewis was around the time of her father's funeral. She remembered walking into the family home and seeing him.

"I was surprised at myself, the whiplash of anger I felt, and I think I was very offended," the woman told the court.

She did not see him again until she went to a party in her sister's house in 2007.

She learned that Lewis was working in a girls' school and was involved in community work.

"I began to think of the implications if he was working in a school or if he was working with vulnerable women and children," the woman told the jury.

She felt he had shown no remorse for what he had done to her and that "I might be able to deal with this but what if he is continuing to do this to other children".

She thought about the legal process and the difficulty of having to talk about what happened to her in public but she decided she was a mature woman with a "sense of responsibility" and a daughter the same age she was when she was abused.

"What would I feel if this happened to my little girl," she asked herself.

She said she made her complaint to the police in May 2008 and has not lodged a claim for compensation against the priest.

At hearing.