Saturday 18 November 2017

Child services kept in dark over sex threat from serving garda

Alleged rape victim warned gardaí but Tusla only made aware after complaint

The woman said she contacted a senior garda member immediately after her alleged rape in August 2013 and raised concerns for the safety of named children.
The woman said she contacted a senior garda member immediately after her alleged rape in August 2013 and raised concerns for the safety of named children.
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

Gardaí failed to inform HSE child and family services about a potential threat posed to young children by a serving garda member after an alleged rape victim made a complaint three years ago.

A mother, who claims she was raped by the garda, has told the Irish Independent that during her alleged ordeal the officer admitted child sex fantasies.

An investigation was carried out into the first alleged attack by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and a file was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), but a decision was made not to proceed with a trial.

The garda is now under investigation for child sex offences relating to an allegation involving an 11-year-old girl.

The woman said she contacted a senior garda member immediately after her alleged rape in August 2013 and raised concerns for the safety of named children. A number of days later she repeated those concerns when she verbally reported her rape allegations to a second senior officer.

However, in a letter from the office of Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald sent to the woman in August 2016, a senior civil servant acknowledged this information was not passed on to HSE child and family services.

Furthermore, the letter confirms the District Officer in the garda division "failed to retain in writing a record of the decision and the justification for not initially reporting the alleged child protection issues in compliance with the HQ directive".

A new investigation has been launched into the same garda member by GSOC over fresh allegations he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl. The woman explained she arranged to meet the garda in August 2013 after he contacted her claiming to have "important information". She claims he held her down and raped her in his car.

She recalled: "I said to myself 'if you get out of this car, what he is telling you is that there is a child in danger and you have to be able to tell stories'.

"He said 'what if I told you I was into young girls'. He said '18' and he kept going down to 12.

The woman claimed the man mentioned an underage girl who he claimed to have sexually assaulted. Following the alleged incident the mother claims she contacted a senior garda officer by text message. She attended a sexual assault unit and the following week she met with a second senior garda and made a complaint. She claims that at this meeting, and in the initial text message correspondence with the senior garda, she raised child welfare concerns.

Concerns

While the woman claims she made an oral report at the time, it is understood no written formal complaint was recorded.

"I verbally told him [second senior officer] about what the individual guard had done to me and I also told him everything about the child side of it.

"My words to him were: 'That's part of the child protection guidelines, I am now handing it over to you'."

However, the Tánaiste has acknowledged, in her letter to the woman, that these concerns were not passed on to Tusla the child and family agency.

The correspondence confirms that Tusla were only made aware of child protection concerns after the woman made a formal complaint to GSOC. The woman told the Irish Independent that this was in early 2014 - around six months after the alleged rape.

The letter explains: "It is understood that after you made your complaint to GSOC, they referred matters to Tusla which included details of the children identified as being subject to the investigation.

"While it is a matter of concern that this contact did not take place at the earliest opportunity, the appropriate child protection body were made aware of your concerns,

"Nevertheless, the Tánaiste has referred back to GSOC the issue of the failure by the gardaí to contact the appropriate child protection agencies earlier."

In a statement a garda spokesman said: "An Garda Síochána takes its obligations in relation to child protection under Children First very seriously. All members have been informed of the critical need for them to ensure any relevant matters relating to child protection issues are reported to the relevant agency or agencies as quickly as possible in the correct manner. An Garda Siochana does not comment on internal disciplinary investigations into individual members or investigations by GSOC."

Irish Independent

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