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James Broderick

'My childhood was like a war zone': Daughter says father's abuse ruined her life

Rita Broderick was raped and sexually abused as a young girl. She has described her father’s seven year sentence as a ‘good outcome’.

A WOMAN WHOSE father raped and sexually abused her as a young girl has described his seven year sentence as “a good outcome”.

Speaking outside court today after her father’s sentencing, Rita Broderick (46) said the abuse had ruined her life.

“I’m struggling with mental health problems, I can’t work right now. He stole my childhood, that’s the biggest thing.”

Ms Broderick, who now lives in Denver, Colorado, waived her right to anonymity so her father could be named in the media.

James Broderick (77) of Lyster Street, Athlone, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to sample charges which included three rapes and three indecent assaults in the family home in Athlone on dates between January 1983 and September 1984.


The abuse began when she was four years old and the family lived in Manchester. It continued when they moved to Athlone in Westmeath when she was 13 years old and ended when as 15-year-old she lashed out and ran from the house.

Suspending eight years of a 15 year jail term, Mr Justice Hunt said the manner of Broderick’s confession was a mitigating factor but “not sufficiently extraordinary” to justify a non-custodial sentence.

An investigation began after Broderick voluntarily arrived at Athlone Garda Station in November 2011 to report his abuse of his daughter.

He made a statement the following January outlining the repeated abuse and rape of Ms Broderick in the family home from 1982 to 1984.

Speaking to the media outside the Criminal Courts of Justice, Ms Broderick said she did not accept that her father’s confession should be a mitigating factor.

“I give him no credit to be honest with you. He did not go in of his own accord. He asked my older brother, what can I do for Rita, and Gary said turn yourself in. If it wasn’t for (Garda Sergeant) Andrew Haran, none of this would have continued”.


At a sentencing hearing on November 19, 2015 Ms Broderick took the stand to deliver a victim impact statement. She described her abuse as “a defining experience in my life that framed everything that follows and continues”.

Ms Broderick described her childhood as “a war zone” and said the skills she used to help her survive the abuse by her father have cost her dearly in her adult life.

She said that the constant abuse meant that she had to disassociate to allow her to cope and now she suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder.

“I have many distinct personalities sharing my body and I am surviving that abuse for many personalities,” Ms Broderick said before she added that her father’s actions “physically, emotionally and socially raped her”.

“The abuse is corrosive and filters down into your bones and into the soul of the victims,” Ms Broderick continued in her victim impact statement before she added that “the sexual gratifications and powerful bliss” experienced by the abuser, controls the abused for the rest of their lives.

Broderick also took the stand to apologise to his daughter and the rest of his family. He expressed remorse for the damage to her health.

Years of abuse

Sergeant Haran told Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting that Broderick admitted that he “started to use Rita” in 1974 while the family were living in Manchester and after his wife had a medical procedure.

The abuse continued when they moved to Ireland with Broderick admitting to gardaí that it happened as frequently as possible and that he took every opportunity when other people were not around.

Sergeant Haran said Broderick would kiss his daughter so violently that she felt suffocated and would suggest to her that it was she who had initiated the kiss. He also used plastic bags as make-shift condoms while he raped his daughter.

In 1984 Broderick went to abuse Rita but she lashed out, kicked out at him and ran out of the house. She was trying to make it to her aunt’s house and made it to a friend’s house en route.

She threatened to tell her mother about the abuse and Broderick didn’t touch her again telling her; “It would kill your mother to hear this”

Mr Justice Hunt said he was impressed with the measured tone of Ms Broderick’s victim impact statement and he hoped her bravery would encourage other people in a similar situation to come forward.

He described her abuse as a “breach of trust of the most fundamental nature.”

In addition to Broderick’s confession, he accepted his age and lack of previous convictions as mitigating factors and suspended eight years to “give him some prospect of emerging back into the light of day for some short period”.

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Declan Conlon and Sonya McLean
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