Peter Bennett had looked after the priest’s house in New Ross for three years when he was called by telephone at midnight. Peter was terrified to hear the voice. He reached for the phone, but it had stopped ringing. Later, it rang once more. This time, an automated Eircom voice told Peter that a new message had been received. Father Fortune had told Peter not to come in the following day. Then Fr Fortune called Peter again.
The young man’s suicide attempt sparked widespread attention. While the priest died peacefully, he had left behind several victims, some of whom have come forward to tell the police of the abuse they suffered. Eight young men claimed that Father Fortune had abused them sexually. They will forever remain “alleged victims” of the priest. But what about the other victims? Will they ever be able to get justice? Only time will tell.
When O’Gorman returned home, it was not legal to practice homosexuality in Ireland, so his family suspected Father Fortune of abusing them. The church protected him from prosecution as he had been praised in the new bishop of Ferns and Pope John Paul II visited the country. A third of Ireland’s population came to Dublin that day in solidarity with O’Gorman’s loved ones.
Fortune was accused of sexual abuse. Fortune fought for years to have the charges dropped. Fortune argued that the charges were unjustified because of the time involved. He then resumed his work at the National Association of Community Broadcasting. In the years that followed, the scandal continued. The man eventually barricaded himself in a tiny house in County Wexford, Ireland, and committed suicide. As a result, the scandal prompted more victims to come forward.
O’Gorman also claims that the church did not do enough to prevent the abuse of children, but did not try to remove Fr Fortune from his post. This is false. Although Bishop Comiskey resigned due to the scandal, the Church did not attempt to remove him. But the Church is making a major concession, and it’s now paying the Irish government a record $110 million in settlements.
Fortune spent his first year in ministry at Holy Rosary Church, Belfast, after his ordination. He also visited Nazareth House, but he was known for being unruly. He was banned from working with the CBSI after one of his scout troop members accused him of sexually assaulting him and others. He committed suicide while he waited for his trial. This was the first sign of trouble for Fortune.
The Irish Catholic Priest, Father Sean Fortune, was a rapist who sexually abused at least 29 boys in County Wexford. His crimes were never prosecuted and he committed suicide to prevent the charges being brought against him. Yet, the Diocesan authorities were aware of his rapes before he was ordained. It is not yet clear if the church will re-investigate this priest’s record.