Thursday 26 April 2018

'This is your burden to carry, not mine' - Woman who was sexually abused by cousin

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Sonya McLean

A woman who was sexually abused by her teenage cousin 15 years ago has told the man that she was handing the burden of his attack on her back to him.

“This is your burden to carry, not mine, yours,” the now 28-year-old woman stated in her victim impact statement before Mr Justice Tony Hunt at the Central Criminal Court.

The 30-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted by a jury earlier this year of two counts of sexual assault against the girl when she was 13 years old and he was 15.

The girl, who lived abroad with her family at the time, had been in Ireland on a visit.

She made a complaint to police in her own country in 2014, the gardaí were alerted and the man was brought in for questioning. He totally denied the allegations, claiming that the woman was “ prone to invention and making unreal statements”.

The detective investigating the case agreed with Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, today that seven days before the trial he was provided with a statement from the accused outlining “an entirely new narrative of events”.

He said the accused then admitted that he had both fondled the teenager's breasts and performed oral sex on her. He claimed their relationship had developed over the course of her visit to Ireland which had led to intimacy between them. He claimed that the girl “was the forward person” in this relationship rather than himself.

The man, a father of two, pleaded not guilty to five charges of sexual assault and one charge of attempted rape at a house in Dublin on a date in June or July of 2003. The jury later convicted him of two charges of sexual assault.

Colman Cody SC, defending told Mr Justice Hunt that his client, continues to claim that the sexual contact between the two had been consensual but pointed out that as the victim was a child at the time “the defence of consent is not available to my client”.

Mr Justice Hunt remanded the accused on continuing bail until Monday April 30, next for sentencing. He said it was not an easy case and told the woman that he was aware that she had travelled but he needed time to consider it.

“I cannot jump to a conclusion,” Mr Justice Hunt said before he added that the accused had lost significant mitigation because he had not pleaded guilty.

Earlier the woman read from her victim statement in which she said she was “exhausted”.

“This process has taken everything from me. Today I am handing it back to you,” the woman said referring to the accused.

“I am full of anger, full of questions. I was a child and your cousin and that was not enough to make you stop. I wonder what my life as a 14 year old, a 15 year old, a 16 year old and beyond would have been like had I had not had to carry this,” the woman continued.

“You had taken from me what you wanted and gave me shame and pain that I've had to carry with me. The impact didn't last one night or the three weeks of the trial, it lasted a life. It lasted my life,” she said

She said she had not been sexually provocative at the time, as she said the man's version of events had suggested. She spoke of the abuse “stamping out the fire in my spirit”, that she changed afterward and was later treated for post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The woman said she couldn't dare tell her family as she was afraid of not being believed. She said she worried how it would effect her mother's relationship with her own family.

“I wanted to die but I chose to survive. I chose to tell the truth. You chose to assault me. You chose to make no amends for it. You chose to lie about it. You chose to plead not guilty. You put everyone through this. It is all at your door. This is your burden to carry, not mine, yours,” the woman continued.

She said the accused had made her out to be “a fantasist, an obsessive, a weirdo and a liar” and suggested to the jury that she would get pleasure seeing an innocent man on trial, a suggestion which she described as “ludicrous”.

The woman also mentioned how the man had said horrible things about her family. How her father had to hear the explicit details of what had happened to her in evidence and that her sister and her mother had “tears running down their faces” during the trial.

She concluded her statement saying that she was “deeply grateful” to the jury for “wading through this fog”.

“It was worth it. You are a convicted man. My single hope is that no woman is hurt by you again,” the woman said.

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