At Omagh Crown Court, County Tyrone, Father Eugene Lewis held a set of rosary beads and showed no emotion as he was convicted of sexually abusing three young sisters on Friday.

A jury found him guilty of 11 counts of indecently assaulting the three young girls. It was also alleged during the proceedings that the priest had later raped one of the girls who had visited him for counseling, having had an affair with a married man.

The 76-year-old priest, when accused of the abuse of the girls, had said that the allegations were “absolute rubbish … they never happened."

In court, he said "There was never any sexual intent or sexual impropriety with these children.

"I can only state the facts, this was 40 years ago and these are the facts as I clearly remember them."

The charges were related to a abuse which took place between August 1963 and September 1973 in the girls' family home.

Prosecutor Ken McMahon outlined the sex attacks for the jury. He said the Father Lewis had gained access to the family home by being introduced to the family by another innocent cleric.

McMahon told the court that though Father Lewis was always welcome in the victims’ home he chose to visit at bedtime or on a Saturday, when he knew the girls were bathing.

One of the sisters told the court that he had abused her while telling her and her sisters bedtime stories.
The same sister said she was raped twice by Father Lewis, when she was 21-years-old, though she begged him to stop.

After this incident she told her mother about the abuse and two years ago approached the authorities in the North and South of Ireland.

The jury deliberated over their answer for four-and-a-half hours, over two days, and unanimously convicted the priest.

He had formerly been a provincial superior of the Society of Missionaries of Africa, better known as the White Fathers, who was based at Cypress Grove House, Templelogue, Dublin.

The court was told that he was guilty of serious sex crimes in the Republic also.  Two victims from the Republic spoke at the trial though these crimes were committed out of the jurisdiction of the Omagh Crown Court.

The first victim told the court she had been raped twice by Father Lewis in the White Father’s House, Dublin. The second said that she was sexually abused at the order’s former house in Blacklion, on the Fermanagh-Cavan border.

The police could not confirm if Father Lewis was being investigated in the South of Ireland.

Father Lewis still maintains his innocence on all counts. He said he “never touched those children.”

His defense lawyer, Joe McVeigh, said “he is very disappointed and he wants to stress that he remains adamant in his denials.” His defense team is now considering their position for ground of appeal.