A woman who has accused her teacher nun of putting her hand beneath her underwear 37 years ago has said she still has nightmares about it.
The 45-year-old mother of three – the fourth to tell of a series of indecent assaults by the nun, a Sister of Mercy – said she was touched on the bottom as a seven and eight-year-old in third class at a primary school in the midlands.
She wept deeply as she told the jury: "As a child I had nightmares. I still do. A big hand, the biggest you could get, figured in my nightmares."
She said she was called to the desk of Sr Mary Theresa Grogan and as the rest of the class sat with their hands covering their eyes following an instruction in Irish to "sleep", she had to read her homework.
"She asked me to read slow and told me I was a good girl. That was when she put her hand up my skirt and inside my pants. I remember thinking, 'Oh My God, she has her hand in my pants'. I couldn't think why she was doing it.
"Every time afterwards I was absolutely terrified."
The 63-year-old nun was known as Sr Peter when she taught in the school in the 1970s and 1980s. She reverted to using Sr Mary Theresa Grogan after she joined the missions in Zambia in 1990. She has denied 63 charges of indecent assault against seven schoolgirls between 1973 and 1977.
The woman testified at Sligo Circuit Court – saying that the offences against her were committed between September 1975 and June 1976.
She said that in 2005, she was in a church choir when the priest announced that a Sr Mary Theresa was to be a guest speaker from the missions. That was when she realised that Sr Mary Theresa was the teacher she had known as Sr Peter who she alleges carried out the assaults.
Early in 2006 she reported the alleged assaults to gardai.
A fifth woman, who says she was a victim of indecency by the nun, told the court that she underwent two years of assaults.
Up to three times a week for two years the nun would put her hand up her skirt and inside her underwear and would "pet" her bottom for between five and 15 minutes, the mother of two (45) said.
The trial, which was transferred to Sligo on a defence request from the midlands town where the offences are alleged to have happened, continues.