Saturday 25 February 2017

Convicted abuser who kept school job raped children again

Gerard Cunningham

A CO Donegal school caretaker who retained his job after he was convicted of sex abuse went on to rape and abuse children again, a court heard yesterday.

The 56-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was described by one victim yesterday as a demon as he pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 38 charges of abusing four boys who were aged 10 to 13 when the abuse started.

The boys were repeatedly assaulted and raped over several years -- in one case until the victim completed the Leaving Certificate.

"I realise I done wrong. I just got into a darkness, a spiral of pure evil, hard to explain," the accused man told detectives when he was arrested.

"I'm sorry I ever set foot in that place; there were opportunities," he added.

The single man was previously convicted on two counts of sexual assault in December 2002 before the District Court, but was not named in court for legal reasons. Those offences took place in the same school in 1985 and 1986.

He was fined €500, given a six-month suspended sentence, and placed on the sex offenders register.

The earliest charges before the court yesterday dated from 1991 to 2003. All of the victims were boys from the area where the school was based.

Offences

The victims and their families were present in the court to see the abuser plead guilty.

The offences he pleaded guilty to before Mr Justice Paul Carney related to both before and after his 2002 conviction, the court heard.

Senior counsel Patricia McLaughlin said the Director of Public Prosecutions viewed the offences as being "in the most serious category" due to the victims' young ages and the systematic grooming involved.

The court was told the accused had studied for the priesthood in Maynooth from 1974 to 1979 but did not graduate after "a disagreeable event took place which caused him to leave".

In victim impact statements, the four victims said they had suffered from alcohol and drug addiction; depression; had tried to commit suicide; found difficulty in forming relationships with women; and were admitted to psychiatric hospitals.

In each of the cases, the victims outlined how they were given money, alcohol and sweets by the offender, who showed them pornographic films.

"I carried this cross on my back for 12 years unable to forgive myself for what this demon did to me," one of his victims said in a statement.

"He took my soul, my faith, my heart. The only word I know to describe him is a demon."

The man also pleaded guilty to charges of creating child pornography, as he photographed his victims in the nude. Sentencing was adjourned until July 18.

Irish Independent

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