Sunday 26 October 2014

Leading arts figure is held for 'grooming' girl (14)

By Ken Foy Crime Correspondent

Published 22/07/2014 | 09:59

GARDAI have arrested a leading figure in the Irish arts world on suspicion that he was grooming a 14-year-old girl for sex on the internet.

The suspect who is extremely well-known in theatre and music circles remained in custody at Kilkenny Garda Station last night where he was being grilled by specialist detectives about extremely explicit messages that he sent to the girl's Facebook account.

The suspect was picked up by gardai from the South Eastern region yesterday afternoon after officers received at least one complaint in relation to his alleged "grooming" activities.

A source told the Herald: "This may not be the first time that a high-profile individual has been arrested for such activities but gardai have particular concerns about this man.

"The allegation is that the man has used his status in the world of the arts to groom at least one female child - there may well be other victims."

As part of their detailed investigations into the middle-
aged man, who is married with children, officers have enlisted the expertise of specialist detectives from the Garda Paedophile Investigation Unit at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI).

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The suspect, who sources say has had "direct access" to thousands of children because of his job, has been considered a "pillar of the community" and has featured in a number of media reports both here and abroad.

He was being questioned under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act last night as part of the detailed investigation and detectives have seized a computer and other electronic devices from his home.

A source explained that gardai received a complaint when an under-age girl, who had worked with the suspect, started to receive messages from him on her Facebook page.

It is understood that these messages were "extremely sexually explicit", and evidence has been obtained that he viewed images of the child on his Facebook page for his own "self gratification."

A source pointed out: "We are dealing with a very disturbed individual here. Criminal charges are very likely. The question is how many other victims are out there. This man has had access to children for years."

kfoy@herald.ie

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