A care facility for people with severe disabilities cleared a staff member of any wrong doing and allowed him return to work before his conviction for sexually abusing a woman with the mental age of three, a court heard today.
The 68-year-old staff member, who was a bus driver for the facility, was caught molesting the victim and making her touch him.
He later denied the charge and claimed he was merely “gesticulating” during conversation.
Today he was sentenced to four years in prison with the final two and a half years suspended on strict conditions including that he have no further contact with the victim.
The man and the Dublin-based care facility cannot be identified to protect the anonymity of the victim.
During the sentence hearing the man’s defence counsel said that after the incident an internal investigation by the care home absolved him of any wrong-doing and cleared him to come back to work, transporting developmentally impaired clients.
John Aylmer SC, defending, said his client, who was on paid leave at the time, declined the offer to return and retired when he reached 65 years old.
The investigating garda told the court she had no knowledge of this.
The man stood trial last January at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and was convicted by a jury after pleading not guilty to sexual assault in the care facility on January 10, 2011.
Garda Ciara Doyle told prosecuting counsel Fiona Murphy BL that the 39-year-old victim has the intellectual capabilities of a three-year-old and is completely dependent on others for her care.
On the day of the incident, the bus driver was in the kitchen of the facility with the victim and several members of staff. The staff members left the room for various reasons, leaving the driver alone with the woman.
When one of the care staff returned to the kitchen she saw the man with his hands on the victim’s breasts. She also saw that her hand was in the man’s trousers.
The driver said “what am I doing” and the care worker said: “Do you think I’m a f**king eejit? Standing there with your fly open and a hard-on?”
The man pleaded with the staff member to think of his wife and family and said she will “ruin him”.
She called him a “f**king pig” and said she had nothing more to say to him. He later left the facility, saying he was “retiring”.
Gardaí were alerted and the bus driver and arrested and interviewed. He denied any wrongdoing and said he was “gesticulating” during conversation.
In mitigation Mr Aylmer said his client continues to deny the charge but does not intend to appeal his conviction.
Counsel said it is clear that the “victim is pretty well oblivious to all this thankfully” and that the real victims are her family.
He submitted that the absence of violence in the offence and the fact that it lasted only a short period of time are mitigating factors in the case.
Counsel added that his client has an excellent work record and the support of a large family who rely on him.
Judge Catherine Murphy took this into account but said she had no choice but to impose a jail term given the abuse of an “incredibly vulnerable victim”.