A former Irish priest faces a maximum of just two years behind bars for raping a boy with a crucifix, a court has heard. The boy was between 10 and 13 years of age the court heard.
"Singing" priest, Anthony Walsh, was well-known as an Elvis impersonator in a group headed by another major pedophile, Father Michael Cleary. Walsh committed the offense, and two other rapes of the same young victim, before new legislation came into effect in 1990, meaning that the longest sentence the judge can impose on each offense is two years.
Walsh, 62, is charged with indecent assault as that was the offense that existed at that period - prior to the passing of Ireland's Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act.
He forced the child to have sex twice, one in the parochial house in his parish and on another occasion in a tunnel under Dublin's Phoenix Park. It has also emerged that he used a crucifix to rape the boy.
During his trial last month Walsh told the jury that he never knew the boy and said he never assaulted him, The Irish Times notes. He had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of assaulting the child on dates between January 1980 and December 1982.
The youngster was aged between 10 and 13 at the time of the abuse.
Yesterday Garda Tara Corrigan told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that Walsh had 17 previous convictions, dating over a 20-year period from 1995, for indecently assaulting young boys and one girl.
He fought two trials and pleaded guilty to the other offences. Now he is serving a sentence and is not due for release until 2021.
Judge Elma Sheahan adjourned the case to allow Ciaran O'Loughlin SC, defending, to submit relevant case law.
Mr. O'Loughlin stressed that, as the victim had made a statement to gardai (Irish police) in April 2011, it could have been dealt with at the same time as Walsh's most recent case last year. He proposed to Judge Sheahan that it would have been likely that the judge would have imposed a concurrent term and therefore not extended Walsh's term behind bars if this happened.
According to The Irish Times, Walsh told the jury during his trial that his offending in relation to children began in 1980 and continued to 1986. He said a number of children informed their parents what had been going on, after which he was called in for questioning by the Archbishop.
He said he was dispatched to the UK for six months of treatment, after which he was made a hospital chaplain on his return to Ireland.
He said he first came to the attention of the gardai in 1995 in relation to one incident and two years later he pleaded guilty to offenses involving five boys over a period spanning from 1980 to 1986.
When asked why he pleaded, Walsh replied, "Because I was guilty."
He was sent to jail for ten years initially, but the sentence was reduced to six years on appeal. He was released in 2002.
In 2010 he pleaded guilty in two further cases and not guilty in one case, but was convicted by a jury. In 2013 he pleaded guilty to two further cases. Walsh said that in 2015 he was convicted by a jury in relation to the sexual abuse of a girl.
He also said that in 2002, four months after his release "like a bolt out of the blue", he was featured on the TV program 'Cardinal Sins'.
He told the court: "I was stunned, because I had served my time. There was no re-offending whatsoever and suddenly I was back into the law and the courts."
Here’s an RTE news report on Tony Walsh from 2013: