Montessori teacher sexually assaulted 4-year-old special needs child
A trainee Montessori teacher who sexually assaulted and took pornographic pictures of a four-year-old child in his care has been jailed for five years.
The court heard the child, who had special needs, was afraid to go back to the specialised playschool she attended. She told her mother that Kevin Muldoon (32) had taken photos of her "bum" and "pants".
Gardai later discovered 46 images of the girl sent from the man's phone to his email address, including photos of her private parts and of him with his finger in her mouth.
Muldoon, of Rockwinds, Church Road, Killiney, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexual assault and production of child pornography on May 8, 2014.
He further pleaded guilty to possessing 688 images of child pornographic found on hard drives and computers during a raid on his premises, his family home and the playschool on May 15, 2014. He has no previous convictions.
Ann-Marie Lawlor BL prosecuting told the court today that the child's parents did not have an issue with Muldoon being named in the media as long as the victim was not identified through reporting of the case.
Judge Melanie Greally said Muldoon's crime represented a gross breach of trust and said instead of assisting the girl, "who already started out life at a disadvantage", "he compounded her difficulty".
"She has suffered an irreversible loss of innocence at the age of four," the judge said before she added that the child's "extreme youth was the single greatest aggravating factor in the case".
Judge Greally accepted that Muldoon had expressed remorse, had social and educational difficulties and had neither shared nor paid for the pornographic material.
She sentenced Muldoon to five years in prison and ordered that he engage in treatment while in prison.
The judge also imposed five years post-release supervision and said that Muldoon must refrain from taking any position that will bring him into contact with children.
The little girl's parents, in a victim impact statement read out in court, expressed how the man's "despicable and disgusting behaviour" would impact them as a family for the rest of their lives.
They said their daughter had a fear of unfamiliar males and "as a four-year-old girl she was stripped of her dignity and innocence".
They said the incidents had been imprinted on her mind and that she struggled socially and had night terrors.
They revealed they were grateful that their little girl had been able to speak up about the abuse.
Ms Lawlor confirmed to the court that there were no other allegations against the man from other parties.
Detective Garda Donal O'Connell told Ms Lawlor that the child's parents contacted gardai after the little girl told them about the pictures.
Two days later, a garda search team raided three addresses and found the images, including 586 of children displaying "erotic posing" with no sexual interaction, over 90 of penetrative and non-penetrative interactions between children and adults and several showing genital mutilation.
Det Gda O'Connell said his team got another warrant to access the man's email addresses, where photos of the four-year-old were later found and analysed.
The man later attended a voluntary garda interview and admitted he had taken up to 20 pictures of the girl.
He described how she had moved her clothes out of the way on his request while he took the photos.
Det Gda O'Connell told Ms Lawlor that analysis of the photos showed they had been taken over a quarter of an hour with between five and ten minute interludes between each cluster.
The man also revealed that he had other images of child porn on a file on his computer named "snakes" so his girlfriend wouldn't find them.
The detective told the court that some of the images found on the computers and hard drives showed genital mutilation taking place and a few were of explicit cartoons.
Det Gda O'Connell agreed with Caroline Biggs SC, defending, that her client's plea had spared the child having to be cross-examined in a trial.
He further agreed the pornography found and produced had been for the man's own use and that there was no evidence of paying for or distributing it.
The detective agreed the man had been engaging in therapy since his arrest and hoped to continue in custody after his sentence.
Ms Biggs submitted to Judge Greally that her client had had difficulty in school and with forming friendships growing up. She said that Muldoon had expressed remorse and showed some empathy for his actions.
She added that her client was a "vulnerable man" who had no friends since the incident and who needed structure in his life.
She asked the judge to take into consideration that the sexual assault would not have been at the highest end of the scale and the majority of the pornography would have been categorised at the lowest end.
Aoife Nic Ardghail/Sonya McLean