independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Married garda denies sexually assaulting female colleagues

A GARDA has gone on trial charged with sexually assaulting and harassing two female colleagues.

The officer, who is married and in his 30s, pleaded not guilty to the charges when he appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday.

A number of senior gardai including Donegal's Chief Supt Terry McGinn were in court for the start of the trial.

The court heard evidence from one of the two female gardai allegedly assaulted between November 2010 and May 2011.

The accused faces a total of seven charges of sexual assault and two of harassment.

Only one of the women gave evidence in the trial, which is expected to last up to three days.

The female garda broke down in tears as she said that she had been sexually assaulted three times by the officer – once in a patrol car and twice in the garda station in which all three worked.

She told the court that on one occasion he grabbed her arms while she was sitting in a swivel chair and pushed her down a corridor before sexually assaulting her.

On another occasion he came up behind her and pressed himself against her. The female garda said she felt his penis rub up against her as he was erect.

She said another garda walked in shortly after this incident, but she did not report the matter as she was afraid her colleague would think she was having an affair with the accused.

The woman said that all other male colleagues at the station treated the female members with respect.

If anything ever got out of hand, the senior officer would remind them that there were "ladies present".

The officer said she was forced to attend her GP and told her of what was happening at work. Because of the nature of her shift work and because of the alleged harassment and sexual assaults she had suffered, she said she was not sleeping.

She also said the accused constantly made reference to their size and told them not to be eating so much or they wouldn't "get a man".

"There wasn't a day that went by that he did not touch me or make some kind of comment," she said.

She added that even the sight of him made her skin crawl, and she even vomited before work at the thought of having to see and work with him

The female garda stressed: "All of his verbal and physical contact was unwanted, and I never let him believe anything other than that."

The accused, dressed in a suit and tie, sat down the back of the court alongside his wife.

Judge John O'Hagan also instructed that no filming or photography of the accused should take place or anything reported that would identify the two female gardai involved.

The trial before a jury of 10 men and two women continues today with evidence expected to be heard from the other female garda who claims she was also sexually assaulted and harassed.

Irish Independent

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