Friday 20 April 2018

€100,000 for woman abused by man now in his 80s

Tim Healy

A MAN has been ordered by a court to pay €100,000 in damages to a young woman who he sexually assaulted when she was a child.

President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns found Laurence Cleary, who is in his eighties, had sexually assaulted Christina Foley (27), who had been a neighbour, on a number of occasions during the 1990's.

Cleary, of New Houses, Kinlough, Co Leitrim, was not present in court throughout the case and had to give his evidence on commission (evidence taken outside court by a legal person) due to illness.

He had denied the allegations.

Mr Justice Kearns said he accepted evidence of Ms Foley, who is now living abroad, and rejected Cleary's evidence.

As a result of what had happened to her, she was entitled to recover damages of €100,000 plus costs from Cleary, he said.

Following his ruling, the judge was told that Ms Foley was waiving any right to anonymity so that Cleary could be named in public.

The court heard the assaults began when she was eight years of age.

They stopped when she was in her early teens when she temporarily moved to another area.

Her counsel, Anthony Barr, said that the abuse occurred when her own family situation was not a good one.

What happened to her had had damaged her capacity for social interaction and to sustain normal and human relations, counsel said. She had also undergone counselling.

Ms Foley, who became upset during the hearing of the case, told the court of three separate occasions when she was sexually assaulted by Cleary.

The first was at his house, when Cleary inappropriately touched her, initially outside, then inside, her clothing.

On another occasion, he touched her inside her clothing while he was watching a pornographic video.

The third occasion was when he was keeping an eye on her and her siblings.

They had been playing a game of blind man's buff, when the Cleary climbed on top of her, and pressed against her.

Afterwards, he told her not to say anything or he would tell her parents that she had been bold, she said.

On other occasions, he would deliberately try to rub up against in front of other people, she said.

She told the court that at the time she did not understand what was happening to her.

It took her a number of years to admit to others what had happened, and in 2005 she made a

statement to the gardai.

She agreed she had been left traumatised by what had happened to her, resulting in difficulties with sleep and with interacting with other people.

Under cross examination by counsel for Cleary, she accepted there had been a lot of upset in her home at the time of the events she described, but rejected Cleary's assertion that none of the incidents ever happened.

Her partner told the court that she lacked confidence as a result of what happened to her. They had moved abroad he said, adding that she did not want to come back home because she "did not feel safe in Ireland."

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