A Dublin priest who raped a seven-year-old young boy on the altar, after tying him up with cords from his vestments and playing Elvis Presley songs to drown his screams, was sentenced to 16 years for abusing young boys.
Tony Walsh, 57, was a famous member of a priests music group known for his Elvis impersonations. He was a serial molester whose activities were known to senior figures in the Dublin archdiocese who overlooked his crimes.
Walsh's activities took up an entire chapter in the recent Murphy report on priestly abuse in the Dublin archdiocese. He was not actually named in that report as his case was continuing.
During sentencing Judge Frank O’Donnell called Walsh a “serial offender” who had inflicted a “life sentence” on one of his victims.
“It is difficult to imagine more reprehensible circumstances than a priest in confession setting about the sexual abuse of a young boy,” the judge said. “This is a gross breach of trust, and that’s putting it mildly.”
The court was told how “David” (not his real name), was tied up cords from his vestments before he raped him.
When the boy cried in pain, Walsh turned up an Elvis record to drown out the noise. Afterwards he told the kid he would “burn in hell for all eternity” if he told anyone.
David gave evidence during a victim impact statement “Following the abuse, I turned to drink and drugs to numb the pain,” David said. “My trust was gone towards people . . . When I was around 16, I attempted suicide. It was the first of numerous attempts.”
David admitted himself into a psychiatric hospital after the sentencing.
“I have been diagnosed as suffering from severe bouts of psychotic depression...” he said. “Because of all this, I will be on medication for the rest of my life.”
Another victim, “Noel”, stated this parents would not believe him when said he was abused. “My mother said: ‘How could you say that about a man of the cloth, a man of God?’ My father gave me a hiding which started in the kitchen and finished in the bedroom.”
The third victim, “Tim”, said the abuse had devastated him.
“I remember lying face-down, while Mr Walsh lay on top of me, making gyrating movements . . . I remember thinking, ‘When will this be over, when can I leave?’”
Despite being defrocked Tony Walsh turned up in 1994 at a , posing as a priest. After the Mass, he sexually assaulted he 11-year-old grandson of the deceased in the toilets.
Following the sentencing, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said . “I can only unreservedly apologise to the victims of this man for what they endured and for the way in which the diocese failed them.”