Sickened: Former friend of rapist priest Eugene Fitzpatrick tells of her horror at what he did
- Credit: Archant
A former friend of rapist priest Eugene Fitzpatrick is in shock after learning the man who regularly visited her family home had been abusing children for decades.
Maddie Noonan, 59, said had she stayed in the area she wouldn’t have thought twice about leaving her children with the popular cleric of Our Lady and Saint Joseph in Balls Pond Road.
Fitzpatrick, 68, was sentenced to 22 years in jail on Friday after being found guilty of raping a boy between 1986 and 1992 while working at the church, and sexually assaulting another in the 1960s and ’70s.
Police believe there may be more survivors of his abuse, and have urged anyone suffering in silence to come forward.
Fitzpatrick was a close friend of Maddie and her family, who lived a stone’s throw from Our Lady and Saint Joseph. To her, he was the friendly parish priest who restored her faith in the Catholic church.
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But she now knows that in the period he was stopping by at her family home, he was also raping a child.
“I’m horrified,” Maddie, 59, told the Gazette. “That he denied it, he’s even more disgusting. It must have taken a lot of courage for those people to come forward. It’s absolutely disgusting.
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“He was the local parish priest. We lived in Balls Pond Road and moved to Mildmay Park. He married me and he was a very close friend of my grandmother. He was always in our house, we loved him.”
Maddie, who now lives in Ireland, said Fitzpatrick left the church “overnight” in the early 1990s. She now plans to write to him to tell him what she thinks.
“I was very close to him as an adult,” she continued. “I had lost faith in the Catholic church many times, based on stories like this. Eugene was the one person that restored my faith.”
Fitzpatrick, of Canterbury, was withdrawn from ministry in 2006. He was found guilty of 11 counts of indecent assault and indecency with a child relating to the first victim, for which he received a total of five years. The first attack took place in 1965 in Tufnell Park when he was 17 and the victim under eight.
He was jailed for 17 years for raping the second victim, of which he was guilty on two counts. The two terms will be served consecutively.
Fitzpatrick, who had denied all charges, was also ordered to sign the sex offender register for life.
Investigating officers Det Cons Lorraine Simpson and Klementina Balint, said: “There may be additional survivors who continue to suffer in silence. I urge anyone who has been abused by Eugene Fitzpatrick to contact police.”
The NSPCC echoed the police’s calls and said by pleading not guilty, Fitzpatrick had forced his brave victims to relive their ordeal.
The Diocese of Westminster has said it cooperated with police on the investigation and has stripped Fitzpatrick of his priesthood.
A spokeswoman said: “The Diocese of Westminster is deeply sorry for the hurt that he caused to his victims, their families and the wider community, and acknowledges the gravity of the abuse he inflicted as is reflected in the severity of the sentence.
“The diocese is committed to the safeguarding of all children and vulnerable adults in its care.
“Over the past two decades, in conjunction with the Catholic Church in England and Wales, robust safeguarding policies and procedures have been developed and put in place across parishes, schools and agencies of the diocese to provide better protection for children and vulnerable adults in its care.
“If anyone has any concerns of a safeguarding nature involving the Diocese of Westminster, they are asked to contact the authorities or the Diocesan Safeguarding Coordinator.”
Contact the Met’s Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command by dialling 101.