Ex-priest jailed for sex assaults on altar boy

A former priest was sentenced to eight months in jail this afternoon for sexually assaulting an altar boy on a number of occasions in the church sacristy as soon as Sunday mass ended.

Patrick Crowley, aged 52, who is originally from Carrignavar in Co Cork, was a priest in Ballincollig parish church in Cork at the time of the offences which date back to 1988 and 1989.

The altar boy was in sixth class in school and aged around 11.

Crowley now lives at a treatment centre in Cardington, Athy, Co Kildare.

Judge David Riordan described the details of the three counts, to which Crowley pleaded guilty, as vile abuse.

Det Garda Donal O'Connell said, "The offences usually happened after morning mass in the sacristy. He would come up behind the injured party and place his hand inside his top clothes and feel his chest and then put his hand inside his pants and underpants and feel his privates.

"The victim could feel Patrick Crowley's erect penis rubbing against him at the back. Most of

the incidents happened in the sacristy but there were a number of occasions in the parochial house also."

While reference was made to multiple incidents, Crowley pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent or sexual assault.

The injured party decided to make a complaint to the gardaí in relation to the matter shortly after his own partner gave birth to a son.

"I felt if what happened to me happened to my son I wouldn't be able to handle it," the victim said.

Crowley, who is no longer a priest said, "I think it is horrifyingly sad. I regret it so deeply. Saying sorry is so meaningless, so useless to him (the victim) and his suffering. I will live with his pain and my pain for the rest of my life."

Crowley pleaded guilty to a similar offence in Ballincollig District Court in 1991, and on that occasion the case was dismissed under the Probation of Offenders Act.

Judge Riordan was concerned to note from a centre for sexual treatment in England that Crowley had to be re-admitted in 1994 after he came to the attention of British police for importuning a minor for sex.

Most Read in Ireland