Guilty plea | 

‘Sex pest’ Wexford businessman blames drinking for sex assaults of teen employee

The married man pleaded guilty to two charges of sexual assault against the young woman who was on his staff part-time

Wexford Courthouse.

Wexford People

Excessive drinking was behind the sex pest behaviour of a County Wexford businessman in his 50s towards a teenaged employee, the Circuit Court learned.

The married man pleaded guilty in response to two charges of sexual assault committed against a young woman who was on his staff part-time.

Evidence was provided by Enniscorthy-based Garda Peter Bergin who investigated the matter, dating back to 2017 and 2018.

The case went close to full trial, with a jury sworn in at a previous court sitting in May to consider the matter.

However, the accused then indicated that he was prepared to change his plea and the case was adjourned for five months to allow preparation of a probation report.

Back in court before Judge James McCourt, the accused listened impassively to the garda’s summary of what he discovered.

The court learned how the defendant used to touch the teenager’s hips and engage in inappropriate conversation about her sexual experience.

On one occasion, she complained that he embraced her in a storeroom and tried to kiss her.

On another, he took her into a bedroom and locked the door, again trying to kiss her.

While driving to Dublin, with her as passenger, he put his hand on her leg and briefly touched the clothing over her vagina.

Sickened by his behaviour, she pushed his hand away.

While she was working in a small space, he once put a hand on her hips and rubbed his groin against her backside.

The accused man’s inappropriate talk and actions were supplemented by a series of text messages he sent to the injured party.

One read ‘I am serious about you’.

It was clear that any such feeling was not reciprocated as the young woman, aged 18 at the time, left his employment.

The circumstances in which she left the job were considered at a workplace commission hearing which awarded her €4,500.

Defending counsel Michael Durack accepted that his client made a pest of himself but suggested that the offences detailed were ‘at the lower end of the scale’.

The crimes occurred at a time that the defendant was drinking excessively as his enterprise was in difficulty.

Judge McCourt pointed out that the offender had abused a dominant position at the expense of a vulnerable person.

‘For a while you inhabited a parallel universe,’ observed the judge, noting that the man in the dock had deluded himself into believing that his advances were welcome.

An 18 month jail sentence was suspended in full with the condition that the defendant must stay away from the person he assaulted.

He was also bound to the peace for two years.

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