Just when you thought priest abuse stories could not get more horrific, this case pops up. Catholic priest James Martin Donaghy – currently serving a ten-year jail sentence for 17 sex offences in Northern Ireland — was sentenced last week for coercing a seven-year-old boy to have sex with him in return for Donaghy guaranteeing that his grandfather would get to heaven. However, he told the boy that if he told anyone, his grandfather would stay in purgatory.
Donaghy pleaded guilty to four counts of indecently assaulting the boy and one of common assault between January and May 1989.
Here is what shocked me almost as much as the crime. He was sentenced to only two additional years to his prior ten-year sentence. That is it. Ten years as a serial child rapist who used his religious office to coerce children. The court said it found evidence of “remorse.”
He preyed on this little boy who came to him to be trained for his upcoming first confession and communion when the abuse began.
The boy was worried about his grandfather and Donaghy told him that this was the way to get his grandfather to heaven. When the boy went to confessional to discuss the incident, he found Donaghy as his confessor.
The victim, now 31, never told anyone until many years later when he confided in his wife. Donaghy at first insisted that he did not remember the boy.
Arrested and interviewed Donaghy denied the allegations, claiming he did not even remember the boy. He later pleaded guilty. His defense counsel later asked for leniency because, despite repeated rapes of children, many people came forward to say how Donaghy had given much pastoral care to many parishioners and families. That is like saying that John Wayne Gacy may have been a murdered but he was actually a great clown at parties.
By the way, remember that ridiculously low sentence. It will run concurrently so he will not have to do any extra time for raping a boy by threatening his grandfather’s eternal soul.