A 76-year-old woman, who was sexually abused as a child, should benefit from the will of the mother who failed to heed her complaints 63 years ago, a judge has ruled.
Judge Alan Mahon said in the Circuit Civil Court that the girl’s complaints about the sexual abuse by her older brother had not been believed by her mother and she had left home and Ireland at the age of 17.
Judge Mahon said the mother concerned had left her €190,000 Dublin home exclusively to a lifelong unemployed alcoholic son, making no provision for her sexually abused daughter.
The courts had always, where appropriate and relevant, taken into account circumstances where a parent might be considered to have a particularly strong moral duty to a child who was “handicapped.”
He told opposing barristers Hugh O’Flaherty and Michael Hourican that it was understandable that the mother may well have felt she had a particularly strong moral obligation to provide in a significant way for her son to the exclusion of her other children.
Several members of the family had gone on to create independent lives for themselves and their families. The sexually abused daughter had been taken out of school at 12 to look after her siblings and a later marriage abroad had, not surprisingly, ended in divorce.
It was not the court’s responsibility to alter a perceived unfair decision in the absence of evidence that the mother failed in her moral duty to benefit one or more of her children.
He was satisfied the mother very definitely owed a strong moral duty to make provision for her sexually abused daughter, for whom she had later felt remorse, and that she had failed to discharge that duty.
The judge decided an appropriate provision for the daughter, now 76, was 30 per cent of the value, after costs, of the family home.
He said the son who had lived out his life in the house had then willed it to a niece leaving his surviving sister with no financial interest.