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Saturday 16 December 2017

Rape claim journalist unlikely to be quizzed soon

GAA girl told gardai of sex at 14


THE Dublin journalist at the centre of allegations that he raped an under-age girl was still in psychiatric care at an institution in the capital last week and is not likely to be questioned in the coming weeks.

Gardai expect to question up to 150 girls who had contact with him in his capacity as a coach and 'mentor' of under-16 camogie in recent years.

This is a matter of course for gardai and there is no suggestion to date that further allegations have arisen.

The 48-year-old is a voluntary in-care patient at the psychiatric hospital and is expected to remain there. However, this will not preclude gardai from interviewing him.

He has been on paid leave from his position in a Dublin newspaper for the past month, since the allegations emerged.

The newspaper is making no comment and does not return calls in relation to this.

Gardai quickly identified a 16-year-old girl whose image appeared on an old mobile phone he had passed on to his daughter to donate to a charity.

It also contained texts of a sexually explicit nature. The daughter passed it to her mother, who called the gardai.

The girl in question was interviewed by female gardai in the company of her mother and is understood to have said that she had sexual intercourse with the journalist from the age of 14.

The journalist had a large list of young female contacts on a Bebo social-networking site, which was used between April 2007 and late 2008.

On the Bebo site, there is a short video of young girls in training clothes, dancing and one turns her back to the camera and bends over. The words "please squeeze" are written with marker across the top of her lower back.

It is not clear if the journalist opened the site himself or whether it was set up for him by the girls, but he was involved in text-style conversation with the young girls. It also contains some of his journalism.

When confronted with the allegations, he allegedly attempted to take his own life and he remains on suicide watch in the hospital.

As well as the mobile phone, gardai seized his personal laptop and also removed the computer that he occasionally used in the newspaper offices to check emails and the browsing history.

The affair is expected to prompt a further examination of the vetting of people who have access to children in sport and other areas.

A garda vetting operation was set up in the aftermath of the Soham murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in England in 2002.

Under the legislation, any one seeking to work with children has to go through the garda vetting scheme.

Sunday Independent

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