In the actor's memoir Walking with Ghosts, he details the alleged sexual abuse he experienced as a child

By Alexia Fernández
January 13, 2021 10:52 PM
Credit: Jim Spellman/WireImage

Gabriel Byrne calls forth painful memories of his alleged childhood sexual abuse in his new memoir, Walking with Ghosts.

In his book, available now, the 70-year-old actor writes he had been allegedly sexually molested by a priest while at a Catholic seminary school in England when he was 11. 

In a passage of his book, The Usual Suspects actor writes that years after the incident, he had called the priest on the phone to confront him only to find the priest claiming he did not remember the actor.

"I wanted in those last seconds to call him a c— and say that even though I don't believe in Hell, I hope he does, because I want him to be terrified and burn forever," Byrne writes.

He continues, "But I said nothing. Some part of me did not want to hurt an old man with a kindly voice stuck in a retirement home who now had no memory of me or of anything he'd done."

"Even years later it feels like the night has been concreted over," Byrne writes. "I've been picking at it with a pin ever since, afraid to use a jackhammer, afraid of what's buried in there. For so long I blamed myself. Ashamed and guilty that I had done something wrong."

Last week, Byrne told The New York Times the priest died years after that phone call and that he had made peace with how his story unfolded. 

"We love to think there's a resolution to these things, that that's how to deal with trauma," he told the Times. "'I confronted him; I dealt with it; I moved on.' But that's not necessarily true. I realized that there doesn't have to be a resolution."

In a November interview with The Guardian, the Irish actor criticized Pope Francis for doing "absolutely nothing to address the real issues of child sexual abuse or the role of women or divorce or birth control."

"It still makes me angry," he added. 

Walking with Ghosts is now available on bookshelves.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.