Accused priest weeps at porn hoard

p25786UK-News-9-1

Published: Monday 23rd February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

A Catholic priest broke down in tears today at his sex abuse trial as he recalled his gay and S&M pornography collection.

Father Anthony McSweeney, 68, denied molesting three teenage boys at Grafton Close children’s home in Hounslow, west London, between 1979 and 1981.

But he admitted being shown a child sex porn film by his close friend, the care home manager John Stingemore, 72 – who was found dead weeks before the beginning of his trial.

McSweeney did not tell the authorities as it “did not occur” to him.

He also confessed to going to Amsterdam’s notorious red light district with Stingemore, where he bought gay porn.

The priest became emotional as he told how his secret pornographic collection was discovered by his cleaner at his parish, St Peter’s in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex in 1998. She alerted church authorities.

Obese McSweeney fought back tears as he told his trial at London Southwark Crown Court: “There were seven to my memory, two gay, two straight, lesbian. You can imagine…”

Teary-eyed, he added: “I find this very difficult. I think one was S&M.”

McSweeney was threatened with being “banished” from the priesthood, but after around six months was moved to another parish in Norwich.

The priest, who is gay, said he was “ashamed” at his porn collection but just could not quit his porn habit.

Years later police found seven indecent images of boys on his laptop.

The former scout leader regularly visited Grafton Close children’s home, run by his close friend Stingemore, but denied abusing teenagers there.

He admitted being shown a child porn clip by Stingemore but said no “alarm bells” rang and he did not alert the authorities.

Describing the clip he said: “My best guess would be they (the children) were 10, 11 or 12. Pre-adolescent.

“I have never seen anything inappropriate of John when he was with the kids. I didn’t think much (about it) to be honest.

“The police asked me why I didn’t do anything about it and that was a fair question. The answer is I don’t know.

“We didn’t know then what we certainly know now – that child porn does severe damage to people and I deprecate the whole business.”

McSweeney also referred to the controversial Paedophile Information Exchange, which campaigned to legalise sex with children.

He said “Last year there was a great conversation about an organisation which was pushing for intergenerational sex and was getting official money to lobby politicians from the National Council of Civil Liberties.

“There was a whole lot of misunderstanding. It just didn’t occur to me to do anything.”

Stephen Spence, defending, asked: “Did it concern you that a man who ran a children’s home might have a sexual interest in children?”

He replied: “Then, no. It didn’t occur to me, I can’t answer why. I suppose I was a bit surprised, a bit shocked and I just got rid of it.”

He added: “I just blanked it out I guess. I didn’t give it any more thought. I’m desperately ashamed.

“I wasn’t shocked, I just said ‘John stop this’. I turned off the projector and we never spoke of it again.

“He knew I was homosexual after our trip to Holland and he may have thought I was interested in small children.

“He couldn’t know if I was interested in boys because it was never discussed but he might have surmised that.”

McSweeney, of Old Brighton Road, Pease Pottage, West Sussex, denies four counts of indecent assault on three boys under 16 between January 1979 and July 1981, and one charge of taking indecent photographs of one of the alleged victims during the same period.

He also denies three counts of making indecent photograph or pseudo-photographs between January 18 2012 and February 6 2013.

McSweeney said that although he had taken a vow of celibacy on joining the priesthood, he yearned to be a father and had photos of boys in his home.

He allegedly ogled teens as they showered naked and molested them as they sat on his lap.

But the priest denied this and said: “I’m not trying to be amusing but I’ve not got much of a lap. They wouldn’t be very comfortable and neither would I.”

He told jurors he got on well with the children at Grafton.

He said: “I was quite popular with the kids, at least I thought I was.”

He also denied having a man sit on his lap at a seminary. And he denied sexually abusing a teenager while wearing a cassock, a full length priest gown.

Jurors were told Stingemore was convicted of sexually assaulting a boy who later committed suicide.

McSweeney told jurors a young man whose photo he had at his home was his godson – but it was actually an Italian male prostitute he paid for sex.

He made the reference while explaining why he had a framed picture of a young man at his Norwich home. But he also had a cache of racy photographs of the male escort, named in court only as Andreas, posing naked and topless and touching himself erotically.

In one image he is lying on a beach towel looking seductively at the camera. On the same roll of phographs was a picture of a church, jurors heard.

But McSweeney denied deliberately misleading jurors and said he had grown so close to the Italian that he considered him his godchild.

Sarah Plaschkes QC, prosecuting, said: “The man that you told jurors is your godson is actually a male prostitute that you have naked photos of?”

McSweeney replied: “He was a male prostitute, he isn’t now.” He said he took sexy photos of Andreas in a hotel bedroom in Paris and the escort sent him others. He denied “lying” to jurors about the relationship by describing him as a godson.

Pausing over his words slightly, he said: “I’m not terribly proud of having had a relationship with a male prostitute. But we actually became friends over quite a lot of years, which is fairly unusual. “I started to have more of a pastoral care with him.”

He said he described him as a godson as “shorthand” and insisted he is close to Andreas’ family, who live in Italy.

Probed on why he said he was a godson, McSweeney said: “Because I’m very embarrassed by the fact that I ended up having to pay for fairly obvious reasons for not very succesful sex.”

He said the pair became close and he said he helped Andreas, who is now living in Germany, through the breakdown of his civil partnership.

He said: “Fat people have enough trouble getting sex with anyone. It’s not a natural thing. He was very kind to me, even though originally it was for money.”

He added: “In another world I could have adopted him. He is happy with his dad but we became very close.”

He accused his alleged victims of lying, telling jurors: “A priest told me a long time ago we are in the risk business, you better get used to it.

“I couldn’t believe these things had been said about me when I know I didn’t do them. Kids I got on quite well with had said it about me. I was really low.”

The case was adjourned until 10am tomorrow.

Published: Monday 23rd February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search