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'I didn't touch or leer at sex claim teacher'

A SECONDARY school teacher has rejected a former colleague's claims that he sexually harassed and bullied her.

Jim Mooney, a teacher at Tullamore College in Offaly, told the High Court claims by Mary O'Toole that he leered, inappropriately touched and verbally insulted her between 1996 and 2000 were "nonsense" and "untrue".

Mr Mooney said Mrs O'Toole had a crush on him, but that he was not interested in her.

He was "gobsmacked" and "disgusted" when in 1998 Mrs O'Toole made a complaint that he had exposed himself and sought sexual favours from her. He also engaged a solicitor to write to Mrs O'Toole telling her to stop harassing him.



Married

Mr Mooney was giving evidence in the resumed proceedings taken by Mrs O'Toole (48), a married mother-of-one, Whitehall Estate, Tullamore, against Offaly VEC claiming it failed to protect her from Mooney when she worked at Tullamore College.

She claims the VEC did nothing and she had moved to another school in 2001. The VEC denied the claims.

In reply yesterday to counsel for the VEC, Colm Smyth, Mr Mooney said in 1997 he first became aware she had a crush on him because she had interrupted his classes on a number of occasions.

In March, Mrs O'Toole, who lived about 500 yards from his home, visited him while he was sick. He described her visit as uncomfortable.

On a later occasion, she called around to him during the early hours of the morning.

She had drink taken, was slurring her words, and told him "don't be afraid. I only want to be with you." After telling her he was not interested in her, he persuaded her to leave.

However, he said, she hung around, claimed to have lost her car keys, and was shouting through the letterbox. Eventually, one of his housemates called the gardai.

In May 1998, while she was in his house during a social event with colleagues, she attempted to initiate sex, but he turned her down and put her out of his house. He rejected her claim that he had exposed himself to her, and that she had fled the house. He said she made allegations in November 1998 against him. She also damaged his car and he instructed his solicitor to write to Mrs O'Toole.

She withdrew the allegations against him, which "just about" satisfied him.

The case continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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