Downfall

Irish Daily Star

Ultimately, it was Eugene Greene’s own sense of invincibility that was his downfall.

Four days before Christmas 1997, the Donegal priest contacted a local detective Garda, John Dooley, to complain that he’s been threatened by a blackmailer.

The semi-retired cleric didn’t say why he was blackmailed, but the detective soon found out: Greene was a serial child abuser.

The blackmailer, one of Greene’s victims, had made contact with the priest out of desperation, trying to raise money to pay mounting debts owed to the banks for the house he was building for his family.

When the detective confronted him, he confessed immediately.

‘That bastard Greene sexually molested me,’ he blurted out.

The story the young man told launched a major investigation.

Dooley and Garda Martin Ridge, a former Special branch detective based in the north of the county, uncovered a trail of abuse dating back to the mid-1960s.

  • A 1976 complaint about Greene to his parish priest was not acted on. Greene simply disappeared from the parish for a few weeks, then returned as if nothing had happened.
  • The Raphoe Diocesan office had ‘no record of any allegation being filed’
  • The order he belonged to, St Patrick’s Missionary Order, also had ‘no reports [in their files] of any form of misbehaviour’ during the decade he spent in Africa on missionary work
  • Although Greene spent time in 1992 in the Our Lady of Victory centre in Stroud, England, where other priests received psychosexual treatment, the Church said he was sent there ‘in connection with alcoholism’.
  • Unknown to each other at the time, three brothers in one Donegal family fell victim to the predator
  • Most of his victims were altar boys, who served mass with him in Donegal.
  • One boy only escaped being raped in the priest’s kitchen because he him him with a saucepan.
  • In all, the two Guards found twenty Six victims in six different Donegal parishes between 1965 and 1982.

But the detectives investigating the case believe that there were many more victims who never came forward, including some who were driven to suicidal despair.

A BBC Spoltight investigation later discovered that ‘serious concerns’ were first raised about Greene in 1971.

Yet Bishop Philip Boyce said when he was ordained bishop in October 1995 he was not aware of any child sex abuse allegations against Greene.

And the first he heard of them was when Gardai contacted his office in late 1998.

Greene eventually pleaded guilty to over 40 charges of indecent assault, buggery and gross indecency.

In April 2000 Greene was sentenced to 12 years in prison, the highest sentence ever handed to a pedophile priest.

During his trial, the judge was force to adjourn the hearing, so gruelling was the evidence he had to listen to.

Yet amazingly, when he was released last year, there were reports that former parishioners had raised €25,000 for Greene.

After the Murphy report into clerical abuse in the Dublin diocese was published, Bishop Boyce said he would welcome any inquiry into his diocese.

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