A priest accused of indecently assaulting a teenage girl told a jury that he had never behaved in a ‘suggestive or inappropriate manner’ towards the girl.
Fr Eugene Boland, of Parochial House, Killyclogher Road, Omagh, denies five charges of indencently assaulting a 14-year-old girl between June 28, 1990 and June 30, 1992.
The offences are alleged to have occurred while the teenager volunteered at a Parochial House in the Galliagh area of the city.
On the fifth day of his trial at Derry Crown Court Fr. Boland gave evidence on his own behalf.
He told the jury that he had been a priest for 42 years and in that period there had been no ‘complaint, rumour or reproach’ made against him.
He said that it was his habit to have a golf outing on a Tuesday, one of the days the girl alleged the incidents occurred, and that he tried to keep his day off ‘sacred’.
He said he would stay out ate as to return to the parochial house would mean having to do something.
The priest said that his contact with the girl would have been ‘minimal’ and added that there was no reason why she would have been in his bedroom.
In his direct testimony Fr. Boland told Brian McCartney QC that when the girl phoned him in reference to a comment he had made that if he was twenty years younger and her ten years older he may fancy her he told her it was meant as a compliment.
Fr. Boland added that ‘in hindsight it was a clumsy attempt at a compliment.’
The priest denied touching the girl in an inappropriate manner and denied kissing her on the lips.
He accepted that he was ‘a touchy, feely’ person and said that he would hug someone in order to comfort them and had given people a peck on the cheek.
He said that he was a ‘warm, affectionate, outgoing type of person.’
The jury was told by Fr. Boland that once the allegations were made in April 2010 ‘my life was turned upside down it was a living nightmare.’
Fr. Boland said that as a result of the allegations he had had to stand down from his ministry as a priest and that this was his life.
He said that since then he had had to deal with ‘sensational headlines’ and that the allegations were ‘devestating.’
The priest also said that the girl’s mother had never reproached over his behaviour and added that there was no bad feeling between him and the girl’s family.
Under cross examination by Russell Connell Fr. Boland denied that he had kissed the girl on the lips. When it was put to him that he had touched the girl under her jumper he said: “No certainly not.”
When asked had he hugged her in the way she described he said: “It didn’t happen.”
When it was put to him that he had had a conversation with the girl in which he begged her for forgiveness he said he had no memory of ever having such a conversation. He said he did not consider giving someone a hug or a peck as inappropriate.
The trial continues.