Saturday 23 September 2017

Revealed: Garda accused of separate sex assaults on woman and young girl now plans to sue state

The allegations involved are 'potentially very serious for the entire force', source claims

The garda scandal began when the woman (inset) accused a serving garda of rape
The garda scandal began when the woman (inset) accused a serving garda of rape

Cathal McMahon and Ralph Riegel

The Gardai have been rocked by a crisis involving two alleged sex assaults by a serving member of the force, including one against a young girl.

And the garda at the centre of those allegations is now preparing to take a high profile civil case against the Gardaí, the State and named officers.

Those claims relate to his alleged treatment while he was investigated for the alleged rape of a single mother of several adult children.

An investigation was launched after the woman, who is in her 40s, claimed the garda raped her in a car in August 2013.

An investigation was carried out by the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) into the alleged rape of the woman.

As a result, a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) but no prosecution was sanctioned.

However, during that investigation the woman made statements in which she  claimed that,  during the rape, the garda made various comments about sexual fantasies involving children.

Now the same officer is accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl and that investigation continues.

The woman claims that since that investigation, she has been the target of  “a campaign of character assassination.”

“What happened after it (the alleged rape) was as bad if not worse. My name was dragged through the mud,” she claimed.

Tanaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has acknowledged that the information the woman passed on to gardai about child welfare issues was not passed on to HSE child and family services.

The woman is now demanding that her case be re-opened and a fresh file submitted to the DPP in light of recent revelations about how the investigation was conducted.

Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald met with the woman in 2015 and wrote to her in August 2016. Photo: Damien Eagers
Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald met with the woman in 2015 and wrote to her in August 2016. Photo: Damien Eagers

The woman claims her complaint of rape was not investigated properly during the crucial initial six-month phase.

However, the garda officer who was accused of  raping the woman is now alleging he was the victim of biased and unfair treatment during the original investigation.

It is claimed that a senior officer who led the investigation into the rape claims had previously been in a relationship with the woman involved.

The senior officer was married and, despite the relationship with the woman at the centre of the rape claim, he did not excuse himself from the investigation.

It is also alleged that he continued to have telephone contact with the woman.

That officer was subsequently transferred and was the focus of disciplinary action following a GSOC review.

Now Independent.ie has learned that a civil action by the garda member originally accused of the rape of the woman is now at an advanced stage.

The woman who alleges she was raped by a serving garda member. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
The woman who alleges she was raped by a serving garda member. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Legal sources said this involves the Justice Minister, the Attorney-General and named Gardaí.

A formal statement of claim was notified to the various defendants last year.

However, it is understood no details of a defence have yet been signalled by the State or other defendants.

If the matter is not resolved, a trial date is expected to be set for later this year.

A source familiar with the case acknowledged that the allegations involved are “potentially very serious for the entire force”.

The man’s case revolves around allegations he was the victim of “biased and unfair treatment” during the garda rape investigation.

He is seeking damages for that and for his contention that he was wrongfully suspended for an excessively long period of time.

The woman who originally accused him of rape said she is extremely angry over this proposed legal action.

“It’s a kick in the teeth for me if he is allowed to take this case. If An Garda Síochána consider settling this that would be an absolute kick in the teeth."

The man was suspended while the original rape investigation was ongoing but was promoted shortly after being returned to full duties.

It is understood  that he was on the list for promotion prior to the original allegation bring made.

This garda is currently under a second suspension for an unrelated investigation into a complaint of sexual assault against a minor.

A suspension is routine in circumstances where allegations of this nature have been made.

That second investigation is being conducted by GSOC and it is at an advanced stage with statements taken and medical evidence obtained.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan have been personally contacted by various parties in relation to the shock allegations involving the garda district involved.

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said they do not comment on ongoing investigations and or the outcome of internal investigations.

A spokesperson for GSOC said they had no comment.

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