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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 15 November, 2019
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'You took the happy, young girl I used to be': Woman addresses foster father guilty of rape

The man will be sentenced on 13 November.

Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

A TEENAGER WHO was raped by her foster father after he plied her with alcohol has faced her attacker in court, telling him: “Today, I stand in front of you a survivor.”

Following a Central Criminal Court trial last July, the 41-year-old man was found guilty by a jury of one count of rape, one count of oral rape and one count of sexually assaulting his then 16-year-old foster daughter at their Munster home on 16 July 2016.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the anonymity of his victim, was acquitted by the jury of one count of anal rape. He will be sentenced on 13 November.

At his sentence hearing in the Central Criminal Court in Dublin today, the now 19-year-old woman said she thought of the man – her aunt’s husband – as a father figure. The court heard the teenager and her siblings had been living with the family for several years.

“I thought you would be the one to walk me up the aisle,” she said in her victim impact statement.

“But not only did you take from me a father figure, you took from me a family – my cousins who I thought of as sisters, my aunt who I loved, my nanny and uncles. You fed them all lies … Most importantly of all, you took from me myself. You took the happy, bubbly, young girl I used to be.”

The attack

The court heard the teenager was home alone for the weekend with her foster father on the night in question when he plied both her and her friend with vodka and beer. When the friend got sick and went to bed, the man attacked the girl, kissing her and forcing her to give him oral sex before taking her into his bedroom and raping her.

During the attack she was distressed and tried to call out, but he put his hand over her mouth, a local detective told Conor Devally SC, prosecuting.

Afterwards, the girl told her friend what had happened and the pair left the house in the early hours of the morning. The trial was shown CCTV footage of the teenagers meeting up with friends in town in the early hours of the morning and of the clearly shaken girl being consoled.

She did not return to the house until her aunt returned home a couple of days later. The girl then told her aunt what had happened and the gardaí were called.

When interviewed by gardaí, the man “painted a picture of her being brazen and highly sexualised”, Devally said. The man told gardaí he woke up at one point and found her on top of him and told her: “Go back to bed you little bitch.”

He has 10 previous convictions for assaults and public order offences.

Anxiety and PTSD

The young woman outlined how she had made multiple suicide attempts since she was raped, suffered from anxiety and PTSD and was hospitalised for some time. She was a promising young student who hoped to study psychiatry but was unable to sit her Leaving Cert after the attack, she said.

“On July 16, 2016, my world was turned upside down when I was raped and sexually assaulted in my own home behind closed doors,” she told the court.

“…You didn’t care when you abused me in the safe place of our sitting room with a portrait of our family over your head,” she said.

The woman said she struggled with constant thoughts of the man and what he did to her.

But she said facing the man in court made her feel more empowered than him for the first time. “I’ve been a victim. I’ve been a fighter. Today I stand in front of you a survivor.”

She implored him to try and make a “positive impact” on others in his life going forward.

“I ask you to live each and every day with what you did and make up for it.”

Andrew Sexton SC, defending, conceded that the man’s position of foster father was an aggravating factor in the offence, but he asked Justice Alexander Owens to take into account the fact that no grooming was involved and there was no “systematic exploitation” of the girl.

Prior to that night, there was no history of any issues between the pair, the court heard.

Sexton said the offence was out of character for his client and he urged the judge to take into account the “years of positive activity” with the foster children prior to the rape.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing.

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Isabel Hayes

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