Limerick man sentenced to 10 years for rape and 'persistent sexual abuse' of stepdaughter

Limerick man sentenced to 10 years for rape and 'persistent sexual abuse' of stepdaughter

By Sonya McLean

A Limerick man has been sentenced to ten years for the rape and “persistent sexual abuse” of his stepdaughter over six years.

Michael Moloney (40) of Sycamore Drive, Bruff, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to eight counts of sexual abuse on dates between 2009 and 2015.

He was convicted last June by a jury on a charge of rape on a date between June 1, 2010 and August 31, 2010. He had pleaded not (NOT) guilty to that charge.

The victim, Jenni Prunty, previously waived her right to anonymity allowing Moloney to be named in reporting the case.

She stated in a victim impact statement that Moloney damaged the trust she should have been able to have in her family and she now felt uncomfortable in the company of her own father. She said her brothers could not look at her in the same way because they felt, as she was their baby sister, that they let her down.

Ms Prunty said she resented her mother for bringing Moloney into their life. She said she had been left so “hurt and broken by him (Moloney)” that it was preventing her from having a proper relationship with her mother, whom she said she “loves to bits”.

Ms Prunty said she now views all men with suspicion, although she acknowledge it was irrational, she couln't help feeling “unsafe in the company of men”. She grieves for the childhood she didn't have.

She disclosed the abuse to her mother in November 2015 and the woman immediately contacted the gardaí. Moloney had already moved out of the family home at that stage, unrelated to the sexual abuse.

When Moloney was arrested in December 2015 he initially denied any inappropriate behaviour and suggested the allegations were a punishment or revenge on him for leaving the family house.

In a subsequent garda interview he acknowledged he may have touched Ms Prunty inappropriately while messing, referring to it as “harmless fun” and describing himself as “ a messer or a blackguard”.

He continued to deny rape and said he had kissed her in a friendly way. He said he was “passing it off as sport” but then accepted he had been aroused by touching his stepdaughter.

Moloney finally accepted that “whenever he got the opportunity to abuse Ms Prunty he did so”.

He told gardaí; “I am deeply sorry for my actions. I will get a bit of help and get it seen to”.

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy described the victim impact as “eloquent” and said the abuse was “a terrible burden for a young woman heading into adulthood”. She said child sexual abuse “devastates families” and described Moloney's behaviour as “persistent sexual abuse”.

Ms Justice Murphy noted that Moloney still maintains his innocence in relation to the rape charge but ultimately admitted to gardaí that he had sexually abused his stepdaughter more than 15 times between the ages of 10 and 17 years old.

She accepted that his pleas of guilty to the sexual assaults were a relief to Ms Prunty and acknowledged his good employment history and lack of previous convictions.

Moloney is now in a new relationship and has a young child with that woman.

Referring to the rape offence, Ms Justice Murphy commented “the acknowledgement of guilt validates the complainant and admissions offer the strongest evidence of remorse and potential for rehabilitation”.

Ms Justice Murphy sentenced Moloney to 10 years in prison for the rape offence and suspended the final two and half years of that term. She also sentenced him to a concurrent term of seven years with the final three and half years suspended for the sexual assault offences.

EVIDENCE OF THE ABUSE

Paddy McCarthy SC, prosecuting (with Eoghan Cole BL), said that Ms Prunty dates the first incidence of abuse by reference to her 11th birthday.

Some days later she was again in his home but went to bed in his son's room. Moloney invited her into his bedroom to watch a DVD. She began to fall asleep and tucked her hand under the pillow where she found a wrapper.

Moloney told her it was a condom and began to put it on after saying her he would show her how to use one. He then pulled down her shorts and raped her.

Mr McCarthy said the abuse occurred very often when Moloney would visit the family home.

In 2011 Moloney moved into the family home and Ms Prunty told gardaí that he would sexually abuse her by groping her “whenever he got the opportunity”, touching her outside her clothes.

He married her mother in 2013. In the autumn of 2015 she said she was asleep on the couch, when she was awoken by Moloney touching her. He was naked. She told him to leave her alone and she got up.

She disclosed the abuse to her mother later that year after Moloney had moved out of the family home.

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