Child abuse monster Father Brendan Smyth ruined my life
“Smyth knew when my dad was away because the car was gone from the driveway and my mom did not drive. When this all surfaced for our family in 2005, my brother had a great deal of difficulty coping with it.”
Ironically, said McGonigle, her grandmother seemed to have a sense of what went on in the clergy. In letters, McGonigle later discovered, hand written by her grandmother to her Uncle Gerry, she warned him of “those seminarians and priests that will try to get into your bed.”
Although she doesn’t have any proof, McGonigle said she is “highly suspicious” that it was her grandmother and her mother that reported Smyth as a sexual abuser in 1968.
“This I suspect through circumstances and do not have hard proof,” she said.
The abuse stopped when the family moved from Rhode Island in 1973 but the scars were left for life.
McGONIGLE got on with her life. She put her abuse behind her and did her best to lead a normal life.
It wasn’t until her sister’s death five years ago that she began to delve into their pasts. She began to question why her sister suffered from depression in the first place.
After a little investigating she too discovered and remembered that Kathleen was a victim of Smyth’s lurid acts.
After burying her sister McGonigle took time to deal with her own issues. In November the Irish government’s Murphy Report was released, resulting in a press conference in Boston in December.
“At the last moment I decided to blow up my photo from first grade and the one of Smyth from 1994. Both of those photos resonate with people and they wound up on the front page of the Metro section of the Boston Globe,” said McGonigle deciding it was time to go public with her story and let other victims know they weren’t alone.
“I was inspired by a very kind man name Paul Kellen in the Boston area who with my permission has been carrying my poster around to rallies all over the place. Paul even took my picture to see the Pope during his last visit to New York and Washington, D.C., and Paul is often outside the Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston with my picture.”
Not wanting to let Smyth ruin any more of her life, McGonigle reported the sexual abuse inflicted on her to the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island in 2006. They told her she wasn’t the first to report Smyth.
“I was informed that I was the sixth to come forward, yet newspaper accounts that I located indicated there were no problems whatsoever in our parish,” she said.
McGonigle attended a meeting where she said the Vicar General, Paul Theroux, of the Providence Diocesan, offered her $25,000 compensation, or she could “privately arbitrate with a cap of $50,000 (meaning there would be no public record and everything would once again be kept secret).”
McGonigle became infuriated with the financial offer.
McGonigle said the diocesan victim outreach coordinator, Michael Hansen, told her to “just send us all your bills."
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