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Tuesday 16 July 2019

Garda probed on two sex attacks, one on young girl

Rape inquiry followed by allegations that a child was assaulted

'The Sunday Independent has learned that a civil action by the garda originally accused of raping the woman is now at an advanced stage' (stock photo)
'The Sunday Independent has learned that a civil action by the garda originally accused of raping the woman is now at an advanced stage' (stock photo)

Cathal McMahon and Ralph Riegel

An Garda Siochana has been rocked by a crisis involving two alleged sex assaults by a serving member of the force, including one against a young girl.

And the officer at the centre of those allegations is now preparing to take a high-profile civil case against the force and the State, as well as named gardai.

The claims relate to his alleged treatment while he was investigated for the alleged rape of a single mother of several adult children.

An investigation was launched after the woman, who is in her 40s, claimed that the garda raped her in a car in August 2013.

An investigation was carried out by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) into the alleged rape.

As a result, a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) but no prosecution was sanctioned.

However, during that investigation, the woman made statements in which she claimed that, during the rape, the garda made various comments about sexual fantasies involving children.

Now the same officer is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl and that investigation continues.

The woman claims that she has been the target of "a campaign of character assassination".

"What happened after it [the alleged rape] was as bad, if not worse. My name was dragged through the mud," she said.

Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has acknowledged that the information the woman passed on to gardai about child welfare issues was not handed to HSE child and family services.

The woman is now demanding that her case be reopened and a fresh file submitted to the DPP in light of recent revelations about how the investigation was conducted.

She claims her complaint of rape was not investigated properly during the crucial initial six-month phase.

However, the officer who was accused of raping her is now alleging that he was the victim of biased and unfair treatment during the original investigation.

It is claimed that a senior officer who led the investigation into the rape claims had previously been in a relationship with the woman involved. The senior officer was married and, despite allegedly being involved with the woman at the centre of the rape claim, he did not excuse himself from the investigation. It is also alleged that he continued to have telephone contact with the woman.

That officer was subsequently transferred and was the focus of disciplinary action following a review carried out by the GSOC.

Now the Sunday Independent has learned that a civil action by the garda originally accused of raping the woman is now at an advanced stage.

Legal sources said this involved the Justice Minister, the Attorney-General, and named gardai.

A formal statement of claim was notified to the various defendants last year.

However, it is understood no details of a defence have yet been signalled by the State or other defendants.

If the matter is not resolved, a trial date is expected to be set for later this year.

A source familiar with the case acknowledged that the allegations involved are "potentially very serious for the entire force".

The man's case revolves around allegations he was the victim of "biased and unfair treatment" during the rape investigation.

He is seeking damages for that and for his contention that he was wrongfully suspended for an excessively long period of time.

The woman who originally accused him of rape said she was extremely angry over this proposed legal action.

"It's a kick in the teeth for me if he is allowed to take this case," she said.

"If An Garda Siochana consider settling this that would be an absolute kick in the teeth."

The man was suspended while the original rape investigation was carried out but was promoted shortly after being returned to full duties with the force.

It is understood that he was on the list for promotion prior to the original allegation being made.

The garda is now under a second suspension for an unrelated investigation into a complaint of sexual assault against a minor.

A suspension is routine in circumstances where allegations of this nature have been made. That second investigation is being conducted by GSOC and it is at an advanced stage, with statements taken and medical evidence obtained. Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan have both been personally contacted by various parties in relation to the allegations. An Garda Siochana said it did not comment on ongoing investigations. GSOC also had no comment when contacted by the Sunday Independent.

Sunday Independent

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