Ayrshire priest accused of sexually abusing two young brothers aged between five and 13

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A priest accused of sexually abusing two young brothers after plying them with drink and playing strip poker claimed to be an exorcist who worked for the FBI, a court heard.

Father Stephen Motroni, 63, claimed he was linked to the US intelligence and security agency as well as involvement in evicting demons, it is alleged.

Motroni is charged with carrying out indecent acts against the children in Scotland and Italy when they were aged between five and 13.

Former priest at St Mary's RC church in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, Stephen Motroni, 63, is accused of plying two young brothers with drink and playing strip poker when they were aged between five and 13

Former priest at St Mary’s RC church in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, Stephen Motroni, 63, is accused of plying two young brothers with drink and playing strip poker when they were aged between five and 13

Motroni appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court today where the court heard one witness say he would squeeze their bums when they were young

Motroni appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court today where the court heard one witness say he would squeeze their bums when they were young  

One alleged victim said Motroni had a ‘dominant’ role as a priest, conducting mass at St Mary’s RC church in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, and in local family homes.

The man, now 34, said Motroni was a member of the Sacred Heart Fathers who, over the years, said he was linked to ‘all sorts of things’.

The witness, now 34, added: ‘Once, he told us he was involved in exorcisms and once he said he was going to Israel to help the FBI.’

He said it was a source of great pride that his family knew the priest but his parents did not know he was being ‘groped’ by him.

‘Stephen would squeeze my bum from as far back as I remember when I was young,’ he told Kilmarnock Sheriff Court.

‘It was frequent. I felt uncomfortable because as a child it’s difficult to articulate how you feel, but you assume adults know best.

‘He acted as if he was trying to straighten my clothes out by putting his hand in the waistband of my trousers and running his hand round the inside of my trousers or shorts or whatever.’

Motroni would also massage the boy’s shoulders at Smithstone House, a priests’ residence in Kilwinning.

While speaking at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, pictured, one of the witnesses said Motroni would act as if he was trying to straighten the boy's clothes out by putting his hand in the waistband and running it round the inside

While speaking at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, pictured, one of the witnesses said Motroni would act as if he was trying to straighten the boy’s clothes out by putting his hand in the waistband and running it round the inside

The man said: ‘He would just come behind me and start massaging. It felt very uncomfortable as he was the only male adult to touch me that way. A hug would suffice if I was in need of solace.’

Motroni took holidays in Barga, Italy, where he had relatives, at similar times when his alleged victims’ family was there on vacation and they often met, the court heard.

The witness said Motroni massaged him at the pool and would ask for one in return, when he was aged between 12 and 17.

‘When we were in Italy he asked me to put sun cream on him,’ he added. ‘I think he was trying to get a kick out of it. Groping is how I would describe it.

‘It’s affected every aspect of my life for the last 10 years. I thought naively that he would realise that what he did was wrong but I came to the conclusion he is not a good man.’

The man’s brother, now 33, said Motroni took the then five-year-old to his bed to ‘comfort’ him in a thunderstorm when the boy was at Smithstone House.

He said: ‘I remember him carrying me back to my own bed. I was pretending to be asleep but I wasn’t. I quite enjoyed thunderstorms.’

The witness described being on holiday in Italy with his family and meeting Motroni before ending up having a game of strip poker after the priest allowed him to drink wine.

‘He was winning to the extent i was in my underpants at the table and he was fully clothed,’ he said. ‘I felt very uncomfortable and asked for it to stop but didn’t tell my family.’

Gerard Brown, defending, asked is he was aware that card games were a ‘big thing’ in Italian families. He replied: ‘Yes, but I’m not sure strip poker is, though.’

The witness added he had been in therapy for a long time as a result of the incidents.

Motroni, of Stockport, Cheshire, denies two charges of lewd and libidinous conduct between April 1992 and April 2001.

The trial was adjourned.

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