UK priest ‘may have abused hundreds’
A NOTORIOUS paedophile priest told a doctor he had sexually abused hundreds of children, an inquiry in Northern Ireland has heard.
FR Brendan Smyth made the admission in February 1994 – the year he was jailed for his crimes.
He said: “Over the years of religious life it could be that I have sexually abused between 50 and 100 children. That number could even be doubled or perhaps even more.”Northern Ireland’s long-running Historical Abuse Inquiry (HIA) is holding a focused module into how Smyth, a member of the Norbertine Order, was allowed to continue offending for more than four decades.Joseph Aiken, counsel for the inquiry, said it was the first time the serial child molester’s comments had been made public.”The inquiry will have to consider whether it is also a story of a litany of missed opportunities to properly deal with Smyth by a significant number of individuals who were themselves in positions of considerable trust, power and influence not only over him, his victims and their families,” he said.Retired judge Anthony Hart is leading the HIA inquiry, one of the UK’s largest inquiries into physical, sexual and emotional harm to children at homes run by the church, state and voluntary organisations.Smyth, who was at the centre of one of the first clerical child sex abuse scandals to rock the Catholic Church, was convicted of 117 indecent assaults in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland over the 1960s to the 1990s.He frequented Catholic residential homes and groomed children with sweets and trips away.He died from a heart attack in prison in the Republic of Ireland in August 1997.Despite allegations being previously investigated by church officials, including the former Irish primate, Cardinal Sean Brady, as far back as 1975, it was almost 20 years before he was jailed.Instead the cleric was moved between parishes, dioceses and even countries where he preyed on victims who were as young as eight.