Child abuse monster Father Brendan Smyth ruined my life
In 1968, McGonigle said Smyth was caught molesting children in her parish and sent to Purdysburn Mental Hospital in Northern Ireland for treatment.
After his time was served in Ireland, Smyth was allowed to return to Rhode Island, said McGonigle.
“It was during that visit in the summer of 1967 that Smyth learned of the bizarre death -- supposedly blood poisoning from stepping on a bobby pin -- of my uncle Gerry Gerard O'Connor in 1947 while he was a seminarian at St. Mary's Baltimore,” explains McGonigle. He would later use this to get to Helen.
Exploiting the family’s tragedy and witnessing how distressed her grandmother and mother were over the loss of Gerry, Smyth, when reintroduced to McGonigle after he returned from Northern Ireland in her first grade year said, "You can call me Gerry like your uncle and your brother.”
This was the start of the abuse, which lasted four years.
McGonigle, now divorced with one child, said from the start Smyth appeared jovial and playful. He told the family to call him Father Gerry. He was everyone’s friend.
“He had a clever way of making things better for kids at our very grim school. Some of the older nuns were especially mean and cranky,” McGonigle recalled.
“Smyth would breeze into a classroom and come up with ideas like having an ice cream cart at the basketball games and then selling the extra ice creams to us kids during the school day as a special treat.”
During the abuse, McGonigle knew nothing but fear. Smyth told her she would "end up like the body in the woods" if she ever told a soul about what he was doing to her.
“I took that as a real death threat and was terrified and confused and very young,” she says.
McGonigle also witnessed Smyth molesting her sister. They had a bedroom with a door directly to the outside that he could enter.
Smyth’s evil antics didn’t stop at the McGonigle sisters either. Their mother also spent time in a mental institution.
According to McGonigle’s childhood neighbor who she located after 36 years, in 1968 her mother caught “Smyth sodomizing a little boy behind the stone wall and she shouted, ‘What are you doing to that little boy.’
“Smyth charged at her and yelled, ‘Get back in the house this is church business,’” McGonigle said.
In 1969 McGonigle’s mother was found hysterical on the front lawn of their family home half naked, screaming, "The Pope owes me!" Her brother was called home from school to address the situation (her dad was out of state on business).
“My brother, now deceased, based upon his personal observations and being 15 or 16 believed my mom was raped and it was by Smyth,” said McGonigle.
By June 1970 her mother was having a meltdown. She spent one month in June of 1970 at Butler Hospital in Rhode Island.
“Gerry witnessed the deterioration of my mother and that was very difficult for him. So much responsibility was on his shoulders as an early age to protect our family while my dad was traveling,” she said.
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