American (83) acquitted of raping teenager at Limerick hotel

The man, who is also a US citizen, denied two counts of raping the then 17-year-old girl in a hotel room in Limerick
The man, who is also a US citizen, denied two counts of raping the then 17-year-old girl in a hotel room in Limerick

A jury at the Central Criminal Court has acquitted a 83-year-old man of raping an American teenager after he testified that the sex was consensual.

The man, who is also a US citizen, denied two counts of raping the then 17-year-old girl in a hotel room in Limerick city on August 1, 2010 while they were both on holidays here.

He also denied two counts of sexually assaulting the teenager in the hotel room on July 31 and August 1, 2010. The man is legally entitled to anonymity.

The pair, who are related, were sharing a twin room during their stay when the sexual acts took place. The woman told the trial that she still can't quite believe what happened and said the accused was like a grandfather to her.

The man gave evidence during the trial that after confiding in him about her weight problem and bulimia the complainant performed oral sex on him. He said he later tried unsuccessfully to have full sex with her.

Under cross examination during the trial he told Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, that “there was never a moment where she objected” and that she could have stopped the sexual interactions and “she was well able to”.

He agreed that in the following days he apologised to a relative of the girl “for causing so much pain” to the girl.

He said: “Regardless of who started or who was responsible, it was a very painful thing for the family, I very much regretted it”.

A jury of six men and six women deliberated for just short of five hours before returning unanimous verdicts of not guilty on all charges.

The woman gave evidence that she completely froze when the man, who she knew all her life, began the alleged assaults. She said he held her down on a bed and she tried to push him off.

He told her “you're my girl” and began to molest her, she said. He asked her when she first became sexually attracted to him, she testified.

She said he orally raped her and she stopped resisting as she thought “it can't get worse”.

The man then tried to have full penetrative sex with her but had to stop because he wasn't physically able. The girl said he did penetrate her and it was very painful.

The girl and the accused were attending a family party in the hotel and because of a booking mistake they ended up sharing a twin room. She told the trial: “There was nothing unusual about us sharing a room. I trusted him to look after me. ”

She said they were both napping in the afternoon when she awoke to find her left hand was held across the gap between the beds and it was under the man's bed clothes.

She said the beds had been pushed closer together.

“I completely froze. I couldn't get my head around what was happening. I rolled over and pulled my hand out of his grasp,” she said. She said he then jumped up out of bed and put his hand down her top and was saying “oh god, oh god”. She jumped up and locked herself in the bathroom and spent an hour in the shower.

She said he was gone when she came out of the shower. She spent the evening in the hotel gym and changed for bed there before returning to the bedroom late, she said.

She testified that she was extremely intimidated going into the room. She crept in as she didn't want to wake him. She said he jumped up while naked and pulled the bed clothes off her.

“He knelt on the bed and was holding me down. He said, “you're my girl, is this ok”. I said no. I was trying to resist him. I never thought that anything else would happen. I was completely frozen. I tried to push him off,” she said.

He began to touch her private parts and said: “if your mother and father knew what we were doing, they'd be very angry” and asked her “when did you first become sexually attracted to me?”, the woman testified.

She said he put his fingers inside her and later forced her to perform oral sex. She said he then tried to have full penetrative sex with her but couldn't do it.

She said it was very painful and she stopped resisting. “I thought it can't get worse,” she said. She said he stopped after he climaxed and she took a shower for about an hour.

The next day they travelled to visit other relatives in another part of Ireland and she said she felt “mortified and extremely awkward”. She pretended nothing was wrong to her relatives but the accused kept following her around during the visit, she said.

“He kept asking me, how are you bearing up? It was very difficult to get away,” she said. The next day again she said she did tell a cousin who she was very close to and an investigation began.

Her cousin gave evidence of the woman not being herself and being afraid to tell her something.

She said on her encouragement the complainant told her the man had sex with her and said she was worried she was pregnant.

The witness said: “I asked, did he rape you? She didn’t say yes or no, she described what had happened. In my book, that’s rape, yes”. She said the woman was distraught and was crying all the time.

Another relative testified that soon after this she confronted the accused man and told him “I know what you did”.

She said: “He reacted. He said it shouldn't have happened. I was shocked. I said to him, there will be repercussions. This is not going away. Go away and don't contact my family again.”

By Declan Brennan