Brendan Smyth victim: ‘Every time it happened another part of me died’

Catherine Healy

One of the VICTIMS of paedophile Brendan Smyth has said that her life was “turned upside down” by the abuse she suffered.

“He raped [me], he abused [me], he took pictures [of me], he humiliated [me], he took my life – and every time it happened another part of me died,” Loreto told Pat Kenny in an interview broadcast on Newstalk this morning.

“To this day I don’t know where those photographs are that Brendan Smyth took of my body,” she said, speaking under her real name for the first time.

Where are they? Who has seen them? Are they published? That continues the abuse.


Loreto said the priest abused her on the grounds of her boarding school over the course of five years.

But she was initially too afraid to tell anyone because he had told her that she “was going to go hell, and that he was the one that was going to cure me, to save me from the fires of hell”.

My body was on fire, the parts that he had raped. I thought what would it be like if the rest of me were in the flames, because it really felt like I was on fire. He had me sucked in.

She said her life was “ended” on the day the abuse began and that it was “just a case of managing every day from then on”.

“I took tablets. I stopped eating. I was puking. I was self harming,” she told the Newstalk presenter.



Loreto said she was left “actively suicidal for at least two years” after she began having flashbacks of the abuse in 1998.

I had a partner Patsy who was fantastic. I had two children. I had it all – and then when I started to remember one particular evening while I was in work, there was nothing… I actually went down to Brendan Smyth’s grave to see that he was dead, because the physical pain I felt in the flashback was so bloody real.

She told Kenny that “there were times when I was in the car driving and I was looking for a brick wall, because I could see Brendan Smyth trying to get in through the windscreen at me. I had the Samaritans [number] on quick dial on my phone”.


Loreto said she was not surprised by the revelation that a senior cleric in the Norbertine Order to which Smyth belonged had recommended that he not be ordained.

I’m heartbroken to think that not only me but hundreds of other kids could have been saved the abuse.

There would be no closure for victims until there is a nationwide inquiry funded by the church and run by the state, she said.

The abuse perpetrated by Smyth, who was one of the first Catholic priests to be outed as a paedophile in the early 1990s, is being examined this week by Northern Ireland’s historical institutional abuse inquiry (HIA).

The public inquiry heard yesterday that the priest admitted he may have sexually abused up to 200 children.

Smyth was convicted of 117 cases of indecent assault in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

He had served three years of a 12-year jail sentence when he died in 1997.

Connect is available this week to provide free telephone-based counselling and support to anyone impacted by the focus of the HIA inquiry in Northern Ireland on Brendan Smyth.

Freephone 1800 477 477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK.

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