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Abused children being made wait five years before court case over

Support charity Cari believes “a five-year time span out of a child’s life is too long”.

Image: Altanaka via Shutterstock

CHILDREN WHO HAVE been sexually abused are being made to wait five years before their court cases are completed.

The 2016 annual report by specialist support charity Cari found that these delays can cause additional trauma for victims.

Cari offers specialised treatment and support services to children and families affected by sexual abuse. Last year its court accompaniment service provided support for 252 children and families going through the criminal justice system. In 50% of these cases, the defendant was a family member.

Child accompaniment and court support services and helpline manager Eve Farrelly said, “Supporting children before, during and after the criminal trial has shown us that children’s cases are still subject to excessive delays at different stages in the criminal proceedings.

“We analysed 23 cases that we supported in 2016. We found that children wait on average five years from date of the crime to the end of the criminal proceedings.

It is our view that a five-year time span out of a child’s life is too long and it behoves all those involved in the administration of justice to prioritise and expedite children’s cases as far as possible while having regard for due process and rights of the accused.

Cari was founded in 1989 and operates two full-time centres in Limerick and Dublin and a national helpline service.

The report revealed that part-time outreach services in Galway, Cork and Tralee closed last year because of a lack of funding.

The therapy department of the charity made more than 2,500 appointments available last year, a 43% increase on 2015. It supported 239 children and 472 adults across its therapy and child accompaniment services.

The Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Services (CASATS) in Galway provides a service for children who are victims of rape or sexual assault or suspected child sexual abuse.

Most of the children involved were aged between three and 12.

CEO Mary Flaherty said: “Despite an increase in therapeutic hours offered and child clients seen in 2016, waiting lists and waiting times for therapy continued to grow as more referrals were received. In December 2016, there were 97 children waiting for Cari therapy services.”

Read: Man who used fake Facebook profiles to sexually abuse children jailed for 16 years>

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