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HSE apologises 'unreservedly' to women raped while they were children in foster care

“It’s not a life, I’m doing the prison sentence.”

Keith Burke
Keith Burke
Image: RTE

THE HSE HAS apologised unreservedly to three women for failings in their care after all three were repeatedly raped over a period of seven years.

The girls were raped by a teenage boy while in the care of his parents.

In last night’s RTÉ Investigates, a woman waived her right to anonymity and named the abuser as 29-year-old Keith Burke of Addergoolemore, Dunmore, Co Galway.

In recent weeks, Burke was sentenced after he was found guilty of raping three foster children between 2003 and 2007 – all three girls were under 10 years of age at the time.

One of those abused, Rachel Barry, spoke to the programme. From 2006, when she was nine years of age, she was regularly raped by Keith Burke.

During one stay, Burke took turns raping Rachel and another woman, named in show as “Amy”, forcing each girl to watch what was happening to the other.

Myself and “Amy” in turns had to strip down with nothing only our socks on and while he had obviously done it to ‘Amy’ before, he called her over and I had to watch what was happening to her.”

Disclosure

The HSE, who had child protection responsibility at the time, found Rachel’s disclosure about her abuse “credible”. However, because no prosecution followed, “Amy” and another child, a boy, continued to live at the home.

When “Amy” disclosed her abuse, a garda investigation discovered a third victim.

In 2000 – as a five year old girl – ‘Sarah’ was also placed into foster care with the family. Over the following years she was systematically raped by Keith Burke.

When the case went to trial Keith Burke pleaded not guilty meaning ‘Amy’, ‘Sarah’ and Rachel had to take the stand and give evidence – going through every detail of what happened to them.

Last July Keith Burke was convicted following a nine day trial – he was found guilty on 23 sample charges – including rape, sexual assault and buggery.

Just a fortnight ago – at his sentence hearing – Keith Burke finally admitted his guilt. He was sentenced to seven and a half years for the rape charges and concurrent terms of six and a half and five years for the remaining charges.

The final year was suspended.

Sentence

RTE Investigates - Fostered and Failed - Rachel Barry Rachel Barry Source: RTÉ

Rachel says the sentencing didn’t help.

“I said what’s the point, what was the point of me coming out and telling anyone because I’m suffering more than he has and for way longer, for nearly his triple his sentence. And not just me, my family, the other victims, their families.

He took my virginity away from me at nine – it’s sickening because I can never get that back. In my eyes I was dirty, in my body I was dirty so how could I expect anyone to treat me any other way but dirty.

 

In a statement Tusla said: Tusla and the HSE have been involved in the lives of the victims for a number of years and “in some cases this involvement continues to this day”. The priority is to” continue to support them in their lives as they see fit and appropriate”.

A HSE statement said:

The HSE apologises unreservedly to the three women for failings in care they received while they were in foster care arranged by HSE’s Galway Community Care between 2005 and 2007.

“While no apology can undo the harm inflicted on them, it is important that the HSE expresses a heartfelt apology at this time.

“All of the relevant historic files are with Tusla since 2014.

“The HSE has been in contact with Tusla in order to discuss how best to determine whether this case raises any concerns for HSE delivered services today.”

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