Brendan Smyth pictured during his time in the US

THE NORBertine order in Co Cavan that deceased paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth was attached to is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the US as two of his victims are suing over the sexual abuse he inflicted.

An evidentiary hearing is now scheduled to be heard in Rhode Island Superior Court in relation to Smyth's sexual abuse of two children in the US.

Attorney Helen McGonigle and her childhood neighbour Jeff Thomas are attempting to sue the diocese of Rhode Island in Providence, the Norbertine order in Co Cavan and the overall Norbertine order for sexual abuse perpetrated by Smyth.

Judge Netti Vogel at Rhode Island Superior Court recently denied a motion to dismiss the case by the defendants on the basis of the statute of limitations and ruled that an evidentiary hearing be heard. "This hearing will be a mini-trial of sorts. Myself and Jeff will be required to testify about our experiences with Smyth," McGonigle told the Sunday Tribune.

"This is not about money. My sister's death, as a result of Smyth, had a dramatic impact on my life. This case is about truth, justice and forcing the church to do the right thing. Every step of the way the church has fought all of these legal cases. The church is attempting to defend an admitted and convicted paedophile."

Jeff Thomas was just seven years old in 1968 when Smyth began to abuse him in Rhode Island. Helen McGonigle was six years old when she was first assaulted by the priest in 1967. The abuse continued for three years.

McGonigle's family, of Irish descent, were members of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic church in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, and it was here that they came into contact with Smyth.

A master manipulator, he infiltrated her family's daily life. He also sexually abused her older sister Kathleen under the pretence of preparing her for the sacrament of penance. Kathleen and her brother Gerard both died from drug overdoses as a result of the abuse Smyth perpetrated against them. Her mother also spent time in a mental institution.

In 1994, Smyth was convicted of 17 counts of sexual abuse in a Belfast court. Three years later in Dublin, he pleaded guilty to another 74 counts of abuse. In 1997, Smyth died in prison.