A pensioner priest could not eat or sleep after police informed him that he had been accused of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl, a court was told.
Fr Eugene Boland denies five charges of indecent assault between June 1990 and 1992 in the parochial house of St Joseph's parish in the Galliagh area of Londonderry when he was the parish administrator.
The 66-year-old from Killyclogher Road in Omagh told Derry Crown Court : “I remember I could not sleep, I could not eat. I was horrified.”
Boland claimed that the allegations, dating back 20 years, had ruined his life.
He said: “In all my 40 years as a priest no one had ever made a complaint of any kind about me. To hear the allegations and the complaints, it turned my life upside down. Ever since then it has always been a living nightmare because I had to stand down from my ministry which was my whole life.”
He added: “I had to endure sensational headlines in newspapers but through it all I knew they were not true.”
Boland who is originally from Moville in Donegal was giving evidence during the fifth day of his trial before a jury of eight women and four men.
Ordained in the Irish College in Rome in 1970, he told the court that never before had an allegation of any kind been made against him.
Asked by his defence counsel Brian McCartney QC how he felt when the allegations were put to him by police officers in Omagh police station in April 2010, the defendant said he was totally devastated.
Boland described himself as a warm, affectionate, outgoing person.
He told the court that he sometimes hugged people, which he said was “a non-verbal way of expressing solidarity with a person and of giving them reassurance”.
Boland also said that he sometimes kissed people on the cheek but that the manner and the nature of his approach to people had never been criticised or questioned before.
He said he denied all of the allegations made against him and maintained that never before had he been the subject of a complaint, rumour or reproach.
The trial continues.