Teenagers get suspended sentences for defilement of autistic girl
Rape Crisis Centre describes the sentence as 'very troubling'
Two teenagers who pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with an autistic child in a bush have had their sentences fully suspended.
The men, now aged 19, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to defilement of a child under the age of 15 on January 25, 2016.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott sentenced them to 18 months' imprisonment, but suspended the sentences for two years on a number of strict conditions.
The court heard the men, aged 15 and 16 at the time, were playing a video game with a younger boy who arranged to meet the 14-year-old female victim. The accused met with the girl - along with the younger boy and three other teenage boys - who all went to a nearby field where the younger boy and the girl went into a bush and had sex.
After the younger boy emerged from the bush, the accused were goaded by the other boys to follow suit after they were called a "faggot".
They went into the bush separately and had sex with the girl, who was wearing her school uniform, without using condoms.
They presented themselves voluntarily to a Garda station the following day. One of the accused told gardaí the victim was silent during the encounter and he stopped because it didn't feel right.
He added that the victim referred to herself as a prostitute afterwards and said she was going to hang herself, comments he took as indicative of her having possible mental difficulties, the court heard.
A garda who investigated the crime said while there was no evidence of force used by the men against the girl, she had been diagnosed with autism, ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder. He also said there was no evidence the men were aware of this or her age prior to the incident.
However, Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said: "It is indeed very troubling that a group of mid-teen boys a few years ago could think their harmful and criminal conduct, observed by their peers, in a public place, with a young girl, was in any way acceptable.
"It is also our experience at the centre that the kind of peer pressure the two were under isn't an isolated case.
"From the report, it seems they were goaded on by others and didn't have the language or emotional formation or recognition of the girl's humanity to resist the pressure. As a result, they committed this harmful, hurtful crime."
In her victim impact statement, which was read out in court, the girl said she had taken a lot of hot showers following the incident as she felt dirty and that it made her feel worthless.
She said she felt unsafe and that everyone was against her and going to hurt her. However, she said she has since learned to get past the trauma and no longer suffers from much social anxiety.
Neither accused had any prior convictions. However, since the incident, one of the men was convicted for possession of cannabis and the other for theft and road traffic offences.
Mr Justice McDermott said the offence was aggravated by the fact that the then teenage boys had sex with a young girl in a public area and that neither thought about her humiliation or the unusual nature of three boys going "back to back" was wrong. He said he wasn't satisfied the men understood the gravity of their behaviour and noted the "disturbing context" in which the three other teens didn't intervene to help the girl.