Tuesday 23 July 2019

Man who claimed teen girl he sexually abused had initiated touching and kissing jailed


(stock picture)
(stock picture)

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A Tipperary man who claimed the teenage girl he sexually abused had initiated touching and kissing due to her hormonal urges has been jailed for seven years.

The man (45), who cannot be named to protect the girl's identity, pleaded guilty on his trial date to defilement and sexual exploitation of a child and three charges of sexual assault on dates between September 2014 and August 2015.

The Central Criminal Court heard he had been in a relationship with the girl's mother at the time; the girl said she had seen the man as a father figure initially. He has six previous convictions, including for sexual assault from 1993.

A local garda told Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, that a relative found an “inappropriate app” on the girl's phone in 2015, which included “disturbing” pictures and texts. A short time later this relative notified gardaí and the teenager made her complaint.

The girl said she had seen the man as a father figure initially, but that he began kissing her while he was in her family home. She said the man later started to sexualise his text messages to her and that the abuse escalated to mutual touching.

The garda told Mr Devally that the man claimed the incidents had happened because of the girl's hormonal urges.

He claimed the girl had instigated “uninvited” sexual contact by masturbating him and placing his hand on her breast. He denied sending sexualised text messages, including one that read: “Hi, how are you, I'm horny”.

The court heard that later analysis of his phone confirmed he had sent such text messages to the girl.

The man admitted the girl had performed oral sex on him on one occasion but could not give a detailed account of this and other incidents due to his alcohol consumption at the time.

In her victim impact statement, which she read in court, the girl said she “grew to love and trust” the man. She said he shocked her one day when he met her on the stairs, grabbed her by the hand and kissed her on the lips.

The teenager said as time went on there was more kissing and touching between them, which made her “feel special inside”. She revealed that she thought it was normal to feel love in this way.

She said it clicked with her that this wasn't normal when she heard her friends talk about their relationships with their fathers. The girl said she began to feel sad and lonely and would pretend to be sick to stay off school.

She said when she moved to another relative's home, she felt a different kind of love that was normal. When she told this family what had happened, she said she felt a weight lifting off her shoulders.

The girl told the court she is not a victim anymore, that she is a survivor and won't let the abuse take over her life. Addressing the man, she said she can never forgive him for ruining her early teenage years, but that she is finally closing this chapter in her life.

Mr Justice Michael White paid tribute to the girl's courage in reading her statement in court. He told her she had no responsibility to bear for the abuse as she was only 13 years old.

The local garda agreed with Colman Cody SC, defending, that the man's last relevant conviction had been 25 years ago.

She further agreed that the girl had a dysfunctional home environment before the man came into her life. The garda agreed that alcohol consumption was a dominant feature of the man's relationship with the girl's mother.

Mr Cody submitted to Mr Justice Michael White that the man's difficulties with alcohol since his early 20s has had an adverse influence upon his thinking and behaviour.

He asked the judge to view his client's behaviour as “more opportunistic than predatory” and to have regard for his rehabilitation into the future.

Mr Justice White accepted the abuse may have initially been opportunistic but said this developed into predatory behaviour.

He imposed a nine year sentence with the final two years suspended on condition that he undergoes a sex offender treatment programme while in jail.

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