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Judges need rape trauma training, claims campaigner


Ellen O'Malley Dunlop, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Ellen O'Malley Dunlop, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Thomas Egan was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison

Thomas Egan was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison

Collins Courts.


Ellen O'Malley Dunlop, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Campaigners are calling on judges, barristers and solicitors to take up education programmes to help them understand the trauma suffered by rape victims appearing in court.

CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Ellen O'Malley Dunlop, said they would like an education programme about the effects of trauma on people to become "an intrinsic part of ongoing education for judges".

She was speaking after a judge said a rape victim seemed more interested in compensation than jail for her attacker.

A similar education programme for gardai had led to a "sea change in attitudes", Ms O'Malley Dunlop said.

"Rape obviously has a devastating effect and there are whole levels of response. It is really important that people understand this," she said.

"Sometimes people get re-traumatised in the witness box in court or they might come across as ultra-confident. If you don't understand it you might think it looks like the person hasn't been affected.

"Another person might go blank and disassociate. It is important that anyone who comes in contact with victims – judges, barristers and solicitors – understands how different responses can be."

On Monday, Mr Justice Barry White told a sentencing hearing that reading the victim impact report provided by a woman, he did not believe the rape had "a profound psychological effect" on her.

"It strikes me that your victim is more interested in compensation rather than anything else," he told prosecuting counsel in the trial of Thomas Egan (47), of Cahermurphy, Kilmihill, Co Clare.

The developer raped a Brazilian woman he had asked to clean his house. He paid over €10,000 in court to be forwarded to his victim – but was also sentenced to seven-and-a-half years after the judge said he couldn't "buy himself out" of a custodial sentence.

The judge suspended the final three-and-a-half years of the sentence, noting that Egan had a previously "unblemished record" apart from a minor road traffic offence.

Ms O'Malley Dunlop said the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre had invited the judiciary to a meeting to offer such a programme "about a year ago". They had met with Chief Justice Ms Susan Denham and other judges and they were still hopeful that their offer would be taken up.


The CEO explained the centre's programmes were tailored to those taking part and could be a one-day or a four-day course.

A spokesman for the judiciary said: "Ongoing training for judges is organised by the Committee for Judicial Studies, which is chaired by the Chief Justice. Plans are drafted for programmes to be delivered throughout this year."

The ongoing training, he added, included "legal and personal issues around sexual assault, rape and victims".

Irish Independent