'gross abuse' | 

Rapist ordered to pay €315,000 to woman he sexually abused over 15 years ago

Woman was 15 when ‘horrific’ abuse took place
Stock Image.

Stock Image.

Aodhan O'FaolainIndependent.ie

The High Court has ordered a convicted rapist to pay a woman he sexually abused over 15 years ago €315,000 in damages.

The award was made by Mr Justice Tony O'Connor, who described what the man did to the plaintiff as being "horrific", which "has no place in a civilised society".

The woman, who is now aged in her 30s, had sued the man seeking damages, as well as aggravated damages for the personal injuries and abuse she claimed she suffered.

In her civil action she also sought damages for loss of opportunity she suffered as a result of the abuse.

The claim was not contested by the man who is currently serving a prison sentence for sexual offences including rape committed against another woman.

The parties cannot be named for legal reasons.

In his judgment the judge said that "no words can fully and fairly describe the uncontradicted facts outlined by the plaintiff in her statements to the gardaí and to this court."

She was just 15 years of age and "an innocent girl" when the abuse commenced, the court said.

The judge said that defendant was a friend of the victim's parents.

The victim had befriended and assisted the man's then partner, who had severe health issues, and his infant son.

The defendant, who is now aged in his 50s, had engaged "in menacing tactics" to "groom her," and had bullied and threatened her, the judge said.

"Putting it at its mildest the defendant's conduct was a gross abuse of his position as a neighbour and friend of the plaintiff's parents," the judge continued.

The judge noted that when the plaintiff rebuffed the defendant's unwanted sexual advances, telling him she didn't fancy him, he threatened her, and "even alluded to his involvement with the IRA".

His behaviour worsened after her refusal, the judge said.

The man had been "bombarding her with texts," before calling to her home and ultimately forcing her into both oral sex and vaginal sex, the judge said.

The defendant continued to force the girl into sexual acts on a weekly basis over an 18-month period leaving her really sick, the judge added.

The judge said that the defendant was "out of control".

The man, the judge added, had threatened his own "imminent suicide" if she did not continue with "his abhorrent conduct".

The man, he added "sought and succeeded in making the plaintiff feel shame and guilt".

Even after the man moved away from the area where the plaintiff lived, he returned on occasions and was seen driving around the place .

On one occasion he was present in the garden of her then home, and "frightened her no end," the judge said.

The judge, who expressed his concerns for the plaintiff's safety, noted that the man is currently in prison, where he is serving a prison sentence in relation to sexual offences, including rape, committed against another woman.

The court noted that the woman's mental health has suffered, and that she had lost confidence in herself due to the abuse.

She has and has suffered PTSD, has regular flashbacks of what happened to her at the hands of the man and becomes distressed when reminded about the abuse.

The judge said that he could only conclude from the woman's evidence that man's actions had significantly contributed to "an irretrievable breakdown of her trust and confidence in all but a few people".

The judge also described the woman as being very honest about what she could have achieved in life had it not been for the abuse she suffered.

An aggravating factor in the case, the judge added, was the absence of any expression of remorse, apology or admission of guilt from the defendant.

This, the judge said, had exacerbated the victim's trauma, distress and her condition.

The judge noted that the woman has brought separate proceedings in relation to the gardaí's handling of complaints she made against the man over a decade ago.

That action, the judge said, had no bearing on the matters before him.

Given all the circumstances the court was satisfied to make an award of €315,000, plus costs, against the defendant in favour of the woman.

Mr Justice O'Connor also ruled that he was not prepared at this time to make any freezing orders preventing the man from dissipating his assets in a bid to frustrate the judgment against him.

This was because there was no evidence before the court indicating that the man was in the process of moving his assets beyond the reach of the plaintiff.

The defendant, who was not represented in court for that application, is entitled to due process, the judge held.

However, the judge said that he was prepared to make an order restraining the man from selling a house he owns in the south-east of Ireland for a period of 18 months.

The judge granted the parties liberty to apply to court to seek to vary or remove the order if they so wish.


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