Still no investigation of prison sex act claims

A formal investigation has yet to be initiated into a protected disclosure in the Irish Prison Service (IPS) alleging sexual harassment, a payout in compensation, and the deployment of the individual involved in another state agency where he has contact with minors, writes Michael Clifford.

The disclosure was anonymous and made on September 20. The Irish Examiner reported on it on November 17, but since then it has been established through two separate sources that no investigation has been launched.

The Department of Justice has refused to answer a number of questions about whether any investigation has been initiated, including:

  • Has a formal investigation been initiated into the disclosure?
  • If so, when was it initiated?
  • If so, who is conducting the investigation?
  • If so, when would the investigation be expected to be completed?

According to the disclosure, a manager in the IPS performed sexual acts in front of a female employee without her consent in 2011 and 2012. The woman reported the incident but when she revealed she had previously been in a relationship with the man, no investigation was conducted, according to the disclosure.

The woman later took legal action over the sex acts and the failure to investigate and the case was settled. The Irish Examiner understands the settlement was just short of €100,000.

The Irish Examiner has established that the man and woman in the case have both left the IPS, as per alleged in the disclosure.

Three sources within the IPS confirmed that the woman was involved in litigation with the service, but the exact details are not clear. It is also established that the man at the centre of the allegations has been working for an agency which deals with minors.

Despite the department having these facts since late September, no investigation has been launched.

As the disclosure concerns the IPS as a corporate body, any investigation would have to be conducted by a person above the level of assistant secretary. The department is without a secretary general but it is unlikely a public servant at that level would, in any event, conduct an investigation such as this.

There is precedent for the appointment of external personnel to conduct such an investigation.

In a statement, the department said: “Action is being taken in relation to the correspondence in line with the proper procedures. It would not be appropriate for the department to comment on matters relating to an ongoing investigation.”

However, according to sources working in the area, no formal investigation has been initiated. One of the reasons appears to be that the disclosure was anonymous, but provision is made in the relevant act for such disclosures.

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