Wednesday, March 22, 2023

‘You just tried to avoid him’: Further abuse allegations against Carmelite GAA coach Fr Michael Cremin

You just tried to avoid him': Further abuse allegations against Carmelite  GAA coach Fr Michael Cremin – The Irish Times

Several further men have reported being sexually abused as children by Fr Michael Cremin, a high-profile GAA coach and teacher at the Carmelite religious order’s former boarding school in Moate, Co Westmeath.

The priest has been accused of sexually abusing several boys in the town’s Carmelite College during the 1970s and 1980s. Following the recent reporting of the abuse revelations in The Irish Times, more have come forward alleging they were molested by Fr Cremin, who died in 2019.

William Gorry (57), who spent time in an industrial school in Moate, alleges he was sexually abused and raped by Fr Cremin during a visit by the priest to the home. One of 13 children, Mr Gorry was placed in Mount Carmel Industrial School in the late 1970s after his mother left his family. He was around nine years old at the time.

He alleges that after about a year in the residential institution he and his severely disabled younger brother, Thomas, were sexually abused by Fr Cremin and another man. One evening in the home, Fr Cremin and the man brought Mr Gorry and his brother into a bedroom, where he alleges they were raped by the two men.

Speaking more than 40 years on, Mr Gorry said he could still recall his brother crying out for the abuse to stop.

“It’s hard to describe that moment in time – the pain and the suffering of it, the crying and the begging,” he told The Irish Times.

Afterwards, he said he held his brother’s hand and cried himself to sleep. “Your life carries a lot of stress and upset mentally, emotionally, physically. I’m still carrying that child,” he said.

Mr Gorry said he feels like he carries “two lives” with him as Thomas died a number of years after the alleged abuse. He has previously spoken publicly about the alleged abuse he suffered, without naming the alleged perpetrators.

He said it was clear that, as boys in a residential institution, they were seen as vulnerable to being abused without consequence.

“They knew who to target,” he added. “It took me 20 years after leaving Moate to deal with trust, to deal with people in my presence. It’s a very heavy life to lead to feel you can’t have people around you.”

More past pupils who were in the Carmelite boarding school in Moate have also disclosed alleged abuse by Fr Cremin.

One boarding student, who was in the school in the early 1970s, alleges he was sexually abused by Fr Cremin during classes and in the dormitories.

Alleged abuse by the priest during classes was a “regular thing”, the man said. “He’d sit in the seat beside you and put his hand down the back of your trousers,” he said.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said the alleged abuse occurred when he was aged between 12 and 14.

“All the lads knew. You just tried to avoid him,” he said. “Cremin used to creep into the dormitories at night. My bed was near the door so he would sit on my bed. He would put his hands inside my pyjamas, fondle me, squeeze quite hard.”

The priest was well regarded locally for his efforts coaching the Carmelite school GAA team, guiding them to winning three All-Ireland schools football finals. He also coached the Westmeath minor and senior football teams for periods.

Fr Cremin was “adored” in the local community due to his GAA successes, the former student said.

“I tried to tell my father once and all I got was a box on the side of the head. I never tried to say anything after that,” the man said.

Even now, he added, the alleged abuse suffered in the school leaves him with “the most horrible feeling” when he thinks back on it.

“This has prevented me from living properly all my life.”

Fr Cremin was honoured in 2009 with the GAA’s “President’s Award” for his contribution to the game. The GAA did not respond to requests for comment on whether it was reviewing the award in light of the abuse allegations emerging against the priest.

Another boarding student in the school during the early 1980s recalled “regular” abuse that allegedly took place in Fr Cremin’s bedroom when he was about 13 years old.

“He approached me for a big hug then he started to kiss me on the neck and run his hand all down your back and the back of your trousers,” the man said. “He’d lean into your neck and be slobbering on you, inappropriately touching you.”

The Carmelite provincial Fr Michael Troy said the order could not comment “on deceased or living individuals who are the subject of allegations of abuse” when questioned about Fr Cremin.

Fr Troy encouraged anyone abused in the order’s schools, or other settings, to come forward to it.

“We have supported those who have already done so in getting access to counselling and therapeutic services,” he said.