Gabriel Byrne: Priests Molested Me

Brooding actor says he was victimized as an altar boy

By Greg Wilson
|  Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010  |  Updated 5:46 AM PDT
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Gabriel Byrne: Priests Molested Me

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Acclaimed actor Gabriel Byrne says he was sexually abused by priests when he was 11 years old and training at a seminary.

The "Usual Suspects" star disclosed the childhood trauma on an Irish talk show, and said  he now wonders how it may have affected his life.

"Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse," he said on "The Meaning of Life," a show broadcast on the Emerald Isle. "It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn't want to be left in the dressing room with him."

He said another priest at the seminary also abused him and added, "It took many years to come to terms with it and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me."

"Again, I didn't think it severely impacted me at the time. But when I think about my later life, and how I had difficulties with certain issues, there is the real possibility they could have been attributable to that."

In the interview, Byrne talked about the "black periods" in his life, which included depression and alcoholism. He said that he was "beaten very regularly" as a kid, but says he has never hit his two kids or ex-wife Ellen Barkin.

He abandoned seminary after he decided his love of women outweighed his desire to become a priest.

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