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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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'Michael Shine spoke very, very softly and referred to me as a nice boy most of the time'

Shine was yesterday found guilty of groping seven boys in his care over a period of three decades.

IMG_0320 Patrick Cusack following the verdict on Michael Shine yesterday

EVEN AS AN 11-year-old child, he had this aura about him which I felt was creepy.”

A man who was sexually abused by Michael Shine as a child has opened up publicly about his ordeal, saying the retired surgeon caused him a “rollercoaster of psychological hurt and pain”. 

Michael Shine (86) of Ballsbridge, Dublin had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 13 charges of indecent assault committed during medical examinations at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth and at two private clinics in Drogheda on dates between 1971 to 1992.

On day 17 of the trial a jury of two women and eight men returned guilty verdicts, having deliberated for just over six hours.

Patrick Cusack (56) gave evidence anonymously during the trial of his experience in Shine’s care in the 1970s. He has now spoken to TheJournal.ie about how it impacted his  life. 

Cusack told TheJournal.ie that he began experiencing stomach cramps as a child and in 1974 he was referred to Shine at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. He was 11 years old. 

He said that he was taken into a consultation room with Shine on his own while his parents waited outside. 

“Even as an 11-year-old child, [I knew Shine] had this aura about him which I felt was creepy. Basically, he spoke very, very softly and referred to me as a nice boy most of the time, which was quite unusual,” Cusack said, adding that he “felt uneasy” from the beginning of the consultation. 

He said he was asked to undress down to his underwear and change into a hospital gown. Shine then asked him to get onto the examination bench.

“As an 11-year-old, you don’t really know what’s going on until he went passed my stomach and then he started examining my privates. He started examining my penis and my scrotum.

He pulled my pants down halfway to my knees and then there was a preoccupation with my willy, basically, for about five or six minutes. 

Cusask said he just picked a spot on the ceiling and focused on that. 

“Erections and masturbation weren’t even in your dictionary at that stage … but you knew there was something grossly wrong, particularly when he started pulling at my willy and pulling back my foreskin,” he said. 

At that stage, I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. I just knew there was something wrong. 

After this, Shine went to speak to Cusack’s parents and told them he wanted to do a further examination, which would include a rectal examination, Cusack said, adding that his parents gave the go-ahead. 

Upon returning to the examination, Shine then asked Cusack to get into a foetal position and he explained to him that he was “going to insert his finger into my backside, basically”, he said. 

After the examination, Cusack said Shine told his parents that he couldn’t find anything wrong “but by all means bring him back”. 

“In 1974, as an 11-year-old boy, I couldn’t tell my mother. I couldn’t tell my dad. I wasn’t sure what was really happening. Such was times them days that you didn’t really discuss them things,” he said. 

Michael Shine388_90530771 (5) Michael Shine Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

‘He had taken my innocence away’

A number of months later in 1974, Cusack said he fainted at home because he wasn’t well and was taken to hospital, where he stayed for 21 days. 

He said he was operated on after about three days and that for the following 19 days, Shine came to visit him every day. 

Speaking in court last week, he said that Shine would carry out examinations on his wound from surgery and that every time he did so he would go on to “palpitate” his penis and scrotum.

“I used to look out [the window] at something which was miles away, which was a chimney. I did that just to get as far away as possible in my mind as to what was going on. Every single time he finished up there was a reference to me being a nice boy, a lovely boy,” Cusack told TheJournal.ie

He said that he told a nun about Shine’s behaviour but said that she dismissed him. He added that he had a similar experience with a GP a few months previous and tried to tell him that Shine was “doing things to me that was wrong”, however, he said the GP didn’t act on his comments. He had still not told his family or friends. 

At the age of 19, Cusack developed meningitis and was admitted to hospital again. He said he awoke one day “in an aroused state and Dr Shine was there with his hands underneath the blanket working away”. Cusack said he told him to “fuck off”. 

Asked at what stage he began to realise that he had been abused, Cusack said: “I was between 12 and 13. I began to realise that something serious had happened. I had no way to share it with anyone.

When I went to high school then I realised that your man had abused me. I realised that when all the other lads were happy in school I was kind of fucked up. Basically, that’s the way I was.

“From then on, a rollercoaster of psychological hurt and pain began,” Cusack said. 

As he progressed through his teenage years and began hanging around with girls, he “still felt there was something wrong”. 

I had realised that he had taken my innocence away.  

“It mentally had me questioning everything about my sexuality, it used to go around in my brain, every single time I closed my eyes he’d be there. When I’d go to sleep at night time he’d be there,” he said. 

When he was around 14 or 15, in an attempt to block out his pain, Cusack began solvent abuse. 

Moving on

After finishing school, Cusack briefly joined An Garda Síochána but by the age of 23 he had changed careers and moved to England where he worked as a psychiatric nurse. 

“Again, [Shine] was determining where I was going. I didn’t realise it at the time but a lot of my career was channelled subconsciously towards finding the reasons why. How this happened, why it happened,” Cusack said. 

During his early 20s, he continued drinking and taking drugs. At this stage, he had also started self-harming. 

At the age of 25, he married his first wife and they went on to have five children together. He never told her about the abuse. 

Cusack and his wife returned to Ireland in 1991. 

“When I came home, at that time there was a huge scandal going on with the church. All the institutional abuse started to come out,” he said. 

It was almost a relief to find out, even though it was as sickening as it was, that this was commonplace. 

Speaking generally, Cusack said he lost his sense of faith as a result of the abuse. 

“That was robbed, as well … key figures in our lives that time would have been your parents, your teacher, the priest and a doctor,” he said. 

“I would have lost trust and faith in anything like that at all. They were supposed to cocoon you and keep you safe but that was blown away.” 

‘You’re a good man’ 

As the years rolled on, Cusack was still struggling with his mental health as a result of the abuse.

“In 2004, I felt that this had become overwhelming and that I was a disaster as a husband and that I was a disaster as a father, which I wasn’t, I was a good, loving dad,” he said. 

Cusack said he felt suicidal and that the hurt and pain wouldn’t go away. 

“One day, I looked at myself in a mirror in a pub and I said to myself ‘you’re a good man, you didn’t cause any harm or hurt. Try and sort yourself’,” he said of reaching what he describes as a turning point. 

Cusack then admitted himself into rehab, where he stayed for four months. 

It was while in treatment that Cusack first opened up in detail about the abuse he had suffered. He did so during a counselling session with a nun. 

“This nun facilitated me in moving forward and for the first time said to me ‘life’s going to be ok, you’re going to deal with this’,” he said. 

Prior to this experience, Cusack blamed his pain and mental health issues on other aspects of his life. However, this was the first time he accepted that it was because of the abuse. 

“I cried, sobbed by heart out, let it go,” he said. “Being in rehab set out a path for me for my recovery.” 

Cusack’s marriage ended when he left rehab. He admitted it was time to move on. 

In 2005, he met his current wife, with whom he went on to have three children with. 

“With her, I felt all the natural things. Opened up to her from the beginning. She was very supportive, very understanding. I told her everything,” he said. 

Campaigning

Cusack became somewhat more vocal about his experiences. 

In 2008, an advocacy group called Dignity 4 Patients was set up to provide support to people who have been affected by inappropriate sexual behaviour and abuse whilst a patient. Cusack attended a number of meetings with the group. 

Around this time, he also tried to contact then-Minister for Health Mary Harney to discuss the abuse. However, he never received a response. 

In June 2009, Cusack campaigned outside the Dáil every day until Harney met with him. Within a few days, he had secured a meeting. 

Later that year, Cusack gave a statement to gardaí about the abuse. 

‘It’s such a relief’

Michael Shine was jailed in November 2017 for indecently assaulting two patients in the 1970s. However, he was granted bail pending an appeal against his conviction and sentence a month later.

Shine has been back up in court over the past few weeks accused of 13 charges of indecent assault allegedly committed during medical examinations at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and at two private clinics in Drogheda.

Cusack was one of the victims giving evidence. 

“When we arrived in court two weeks ago, it was such a relief. It was so surreal, it was like as if it wasn’t happening,” he said. 

Speaking of why he chose to publicly tell his story, Cusack said: “The pain will never go, but I hope that it will give a beacon of light to people out there to come forward.

I think to just put the story out there, it’s most important because these things disappear.

Reflecting on what it feels like for Shine to finally be in court, Cusack added: “I just hope for all the guys who suffered and all the families who suffered, that it gives them closure.”

Cusack spoke to TheJournal.ie shortly after yesterday’s verdict was announced. 

Speaking of the news, he said: “It means that I can put it on the back of my mind, it just means closure and I can get on with my life.

It’s just relief, vindication.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

With reporting by Brion Hoban

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