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Dublin: 8°C Monday 1 March 2021

Suspended sentence for man who repeatedly sexually assaulted young girl he was babysitting

Stephen Browner of Stoneybatter, Dublin, pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual assault.

The Criminal Courts in Dublin
The Criminal Courts in Dublin
Image: Shutterstock/Sean Wandzilak

A MAN WHO repeatedly sexually assaulted a young girl he was babysitting two decades ago has received a suspended sentence of 20 months.

Stephen Browner, now 36, was a teenager when he forced the child to masturbate him on dates between December 1997 and December 1999. She was aged between eight and 10 at the time.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Browner says he has lived with intense feelings of guilt and shame about his actions. Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin said that the attacks left the victim with “a sadness that remains with her” and “desecrated” her idea of love.

Browner of Stoneybatter, Dublin, pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual assault at her family home in a south Dublin suburb on dates between December 1997 and December 1999.

Elva Duffy, prosecuting, told the court that the complainant wished to lift reporting restrictions in the case so that Browner can be named. Judge Ní Chúlacháin told Browner that the victim was “motivated by a concern to protect others from you”.

She suspended a 20 month prison term on conditions including that he undergo all treatment programmes recommended by the Probation Service, including victim awareness.

The judge accepted the offending was out of character and that Browner was a minor at the time, 14 to 16 years old. She noted a report that states he is at a low risk of re-offending.

She told Browner that he is on the sex offenders register and has “an obligation to let future girlfriends know that you are on the register”.

Judge Ní Chúlacháin also noted that reports before the court say that he is remorseful but she said he has not taken concrete steps to deal with his offending, such as undergoing counselling.

“You will have to live with revulsion you have for yourself,” she said.

In a letter to court Browner said he was sorry and said he always knew his past actions would “catch up” with him.

“I’ve never been able to live with myself,” he said.

Detective Garda Paul Lynch told the court that the victim went to gardaí in 2016 and Browner was interviewed the following year. He admitted he had made the child masturbate him around half a dozen times and part of this abuse was linked to “a gun game” he played with the victim.

He told detectives: “I am ashamed. If I could change what went on, I would do”.

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Declan Brennan

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