Former priest and serial abuser Tony Walsh has received a sentence of one year imprisonment for the sexual assault of a child in the early 1970s.
Walsh was a seminarian at the time of the offence, the earliest recorded case of child abuse by him. He became known as the ‘Singing Priest’ for his role in a travelling all-priest group before he was defrocked after his abuse of children emerged.
Walsh, aged 61, formerly of North Circular Rd, Dublin, was convicted in December of the indecent assault of a female at St Luke’s, Kilbarron Park, Kilmore, Dublin between April 17, 1973, and September 9, 1976.
The victim was aged between seven and 10 at the time when Walsh locked her into a room and forced himself on her until he climaxed. After the assault, he told her it was only a game, stating: “We were only having fun, don’t tell anyone.”
Walsh is currently serving a 16-year sentence imposed in 2010 for rape and abuse of three schoolboys.
Det Garda Shay Woods told Garret Baker, prosecuting, the offence took place during a game of “hide and seek” instigated by Walsh in a parish hall run by the Sisters of Charity nuns.
The victim remembered Walsh was aroused and was banging his pelvic area into her. Other children were banging on the door at this point. The victim was screaming from inside the room and ran out after Walsh opened the door, the court heard.
In her victim impact report, the woman said she blamed herself for the assault and for bringing “this awful shame” on her family.
She said Walsh was doted over in the community and thought of as “God himself”.
Judge Catherine Murphy said the abuse had “profound and damaging effects” on the victim, now aged 50.
She imposed the maximum sentence of two years and ordered it run consecutive to the termination of his current sentence in October 2020. She suspended the final year on condition he keep the peace.
Judge Murphy paid tribute to Det Garda Woods who the victim, in her impact report, described as “wonderful in every respect” and as the “light at the end of a tunnel” for her.
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