Monday 23 April 2018

GAA coach (71) sexually assaulted one of his young victims after persuading him to look at championship medal

A 15-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a school principal
A 15-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a school principal

Greg Harkin

A GAA coach accused of 54 indecent assaults on young boys allegedly sexually assaulted one of them after persuading him to examine a county championship medal, a court has heard.

The 71-year-old accused man appeared at Sligo Circuit Criminal Court accused of offences between October 1981 and August 1986.

He had pleaded ‘not guilty’ to all the charges before a jury of 11 men and one woman.

Eileen O’Leary SC, prosecuting for the DPP, told the court yesterday that the defendant trained the under-12 boys football team in his parish in the west of Ireland.

She said the offences were committed when the boys were aged between nine and 13.

Four of the alleged victims, she said, played with the team whilst the fifth alleged victim was the son of the defendant’s friends.

One of the victims, now aged 43, began his evidence and told about an alleged incident when he was 11-years-old.

The GAA coach, the alleged victim told Judge Petria McDonnell, had assaulted him for the first time when the coach persuaded him to look at a county championship medal.

“He pulled me towards him. He was sitting on his bed, he put his left arm around me and started groping me around the trousers with his left hand,” the alleged victim said.

“I was wearing long trousers. I was 11. I didn’t know what was going on.”

He said his GAA coach had showed him a text book about “what the birds and bees do.”

The 43-year-old went on: “I asked him did he ever do it himself and he said he did and it felt good.”

After the incident the defendant, said the alleged victim, had put his bicycle into the boot of his car and drove him home.

“He came in to meet my mum who always made tea for him,” he said.

The alleged victim said there was another indecent assault when the coach brought him to a lake where he used to fish, but without bringing any fishing rods.

The 71-year-old coach has pleaded not guilty to 54 charges of indecent assault against five men when they were schoolboys.

Two of the alleged victims are now aged 41 and two are 43. The fifth is 38.

Ms O’Leary told the court there was a “system and similarities” in the methods taken by the accused man.

The prosecution alleged that the offences were committed mostly in the defendant’s home where he lived alone and in his car and in a small number of other locations.

The defendant, who cannot be named to protect the identities of the alleged victims, had been arrested four years ago on April 29, 2010, and he was charged by gardai in October 2011. 

Judge McDonnell told the jury the trial was expected to run for at least two weeks and could go into a third week.

The trial continues today (Wed).

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