Friday 22 September 2017

Sports writer preyed on girl after highlighting 'cunning of paedophiles'

Tom Humphries could face 10 years for child sex offences

Tom Humphries pictured outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts
Tom Humphries pictured outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Collins Courts
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

When news spread of journalist Tom Humphries' arrest on child sex charges in 2012, it sent shock waves through media and sporting circles.

Although his name did not appear in the press at the time, the story still became widely known through word of mouth and was a topic of discussion in sports grounds and pubs.

At the time, Humphries was one of the most revered sports journalists in the country.

He could do things with his laptop and notebook that few others could.

His central role in the Saipan affair in 2002, where his interview with Roy Keane triggered the furious row which led to the Ireland soccer captain being sent home from the World Cup, cemented his reputation.

There were also well received sports books, such as Dublin V Kerry, which many consider to be the definitive account of the 1970s rivalry between Gaelic football's most decorated teams.

All of this changed with his arrest. He has not graced the pages of the 'Irish Times' since and is no longer employed by the newspaper.

It declined to comment yesterday, with a spokesperson saying it would issue a statement when the legal process is completed.

His articles remain available on the newspaper's website and it is unclear whether this is a situation that will be reviewed in light of his admission of sexually exploiting and defiling a girl under the age of 17.

Humphries' activities have left a sour taste in the mouths of sports fans who enjoyed his articles and books.

One leaving a particularly bad taste is an article penned in 1998 in which he wrote about a visit he made to Toronto where paedophiles had infiltrated the junior ranks of a hockey team.

Cunning

The article ruminated on the "cunning of paedophiles".

"Sport, with its youth and its trips and its opportunity for building relationships between coaches and participants, is a fine feeding ground for those few sick minds who prey on kids," he wrote.

Humphries paid tribute to one young man who broke through the wall of silence to blow the whistle.

He lamented how the whistleblower took his own life just days after one of the paedophiles was sentenced to two years in jail and chemical castration.

The piece lauded programmes introduced in Canada to safeguard children as a result of the scandal.

These involved screening, police checks and reference checks.

"None of us can afford the complacency of thinking we live in a bulletproof world," he wrote.

"The solution, if there is one at all, lies in education and in the denial of opportunity."

Reading those words today is somewhat chilling.

We now know that 12 years after they were published Humphries was engaged in sexual acts with an underage girl at an apartment in Dublin.

We also know he sexually exploited the same child by inviting her to engage or participate in a sexually explicit, indecent or obscene acts on various dates in 2010 and 2011.

The full circumstances have yet to be disclosed.

A fuller picture of his activities will most likely emerge at a sentencing hearing scheduled for next month.

Irish Independent

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