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'Priest told me to say Hail Marys after his sex attacks', court told

A woman has told a jury that after she was first abused by her local priest in a confessional room he directed her to say 10 Hail Marys as penance and told her not to tell anyone what happened.

Father Maeliosa O Hauallachain (72) of Seafield Road, Killiney, Co Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to three charges of indecent assault on dates between July 31, 1981 and August 2, 1982, when the woman was between 13 and 14.

The now 42-year-old woman told Caroline Biggs, prosecuting, at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, that she started drinking heavily by the time she was 15 and would self-harm and bathe herself in Savalon.

When asked by Ms Biggs how she felt during the time of the alleged abuse she replied: "I felt terrible, dirty, felt there was a smell off my body. My behaviour deteriorated somewhat. I knew it was wrong."

She said she felt she had no control over it and O Hauallachain was manipulating her and had power over her.

"I was afraid of him. I felt if I broke my silence God would harm me," the complainant said.

She said the first time she was abused she had been singing in the choir before she went to O Hauallachain to say her confession.

She knelt down beside a screen and had just said "bless me father for I have sinned" when O Hauallachain "popped his head around and said 'Ah it's yourself'."

Kissed

He then took her around the other side of the screen and sat her down on his knee. She continued to discuss some issues she was having before he put his arm around her and kissed her on the lips.

The woman told Ms Biggs that O Hauallachain then got up and locked the door of the confession room before again placing her on his knee. He started to touch her breasts and kissed her on the lips.

"He put my hand into the pocket of his habit and made me play with his penis. He then told me to say 10 Hail Marys for my penance and not to tell anyone what happened," the woman told the jury.

"Like a fool. I went out and said the Hail Marys. I felt so bad and ashamed of what had just happened in the house of God," she continued.

She told Ms Biggs that the abuse continued when O Hauallachain would "persuade" her into a room in the priory and touch her breasts and vagina inside her underwear. She said he would kiss her and make her masturbate him.

She said this same type of abuse would happen in this room in the priory most Sundays, and sometimes as she was passing on her way home, up until she was 15.

She also described how on some occasions O Hauallachain was not wearing any underwear under his robes while other times he would be wearing Y-fronts.

The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie