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Tuesday 25 April 2017

Ombudsman investigates 70 sex claims against gardai

Criminal investigations carried out in 39 cases over six years but just one sent to trial by DPP

'According to figures released under freedom of information to uglymugs.ie, GSOC investigated five cases of alleged rape over the six-year period' (stock photo)
'According to figures released under freedom of information to uglymugs.ie, GSOC investigated five cases of alleged rape over the six-year period' (stock photo)
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

The Garda Ombudsman investigated 70 alleged sex offences carried out by gardai over a six-year period but a prosecution was directed in just one case, according to new figures.

The statistics have emerged just a week after it was revealed that three gardai from the same district have been suspended, transferred or disciplined over separate sexual assault cases.

In the most recent case, a woman has claimed that a detective demanded sexual favours in return for concealing certain offences.

Another garda is currently suspended for the second time over allegations that he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl. He was previously investigated for an alleged rape of a mother in her 40s but a decision was taken not to prosecute.

The initial investigation involving that garda was one of 70 alleged sexual offences investigated by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) between 2010 and 2015.

According to figures released under freedom of information to uglymugs.ie, GSOC investigated five cases of alleged rape over the six-year period.

A further 29 alleged sexual offences and 27 alleged sex assaults were reported.

Four cases of underage sex were investigated while one garda was investigated for possession of child pornography.

Criminal investigations were undertaken in 39 cases but in just one case the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that a trial would take place. That alleged offence was reported to gardai in 2011 and details of the outcome of the case were not provided.

In three further cases, a disciplinary sanction was applied by the Garda Commissioner.

Read more: Exclusive: Detective suspended after 'demanding sexual favours'

There was insufficient evidence of criminal misconduct to prosecute in 31 cases while the allegation was withdrawn in 13. Six investigations were discontinued owing to the lack of co-operation from the complainant.

Lucy Smyth, director of online safety scheme for sex workers uglymugs.ie, said that the figures were "very disappointing".

"We think this problem is much more prevalent than the numbers suggest. Seeking justice after any sexual assault is difficult. When the offender is a garda it is so immensely difficult that victims are unlikely to come forward," she said.

The new figures concern only investigations carried out by GSOC and do not include criminal investigations carried out by An Garda Siochana into its own members.

Last week the Irish Independent reported that a woman in her 30s had accused a detective of asking for sexual favours in return for perverting the course of justice. She made a full statement and the accused officer was subsequently suspended with full pay.

The matter has been handed over to GSOC for investigation, and first came to the attention of gardai in July 2016.

It also emerged that the officer who took the original complaint from the woman is the same man who is now under investigation for the alleged sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl.

This officer was previously accused of raping a woman in a car in August 2013 and was suspended from duty for a period of time.

During the alleged attack, it was claimed he detailed child sex fantasies. A GSOC investigation was carried out into the allegation but the DPP directed no prosecution be taken.

The garda was permitted to return to work but was subsequently accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl and has since been suspended from the force for a second time.

Last week. the Sunday Independent revealed how this same officer was taking legal action against An Garda Siochana, the State and named officers over his alleged treatment during the original investigation.

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

The officer involved alleges he was the victim of biased and unfair treatment during the original investigation by a fellow officer.

It has emerged that a senior officer charged with leading 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 single woman at the centre of the rape claim, did not excuse himself from the investigation.

Sunday Independent

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