A Waterford man and woman sexually abused and exploited their son when he was aged between five and nine, it has been alleged at the Central Criminal Court.
The father of the boy is also accused of raping him, including with a poker, over the four year period. The parents deny the charges and told gardaí that the boy was a “difficult child” who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and behavioural problems.
They face a total of 82 charges of abuse between 2007 and 2011 in Waterford.
The father and mother have pleaded not guilty to 16 counts each of sexual exploitation and one charge each of child cruelty. The mother has also denied 16 counts of sexual assault while the father denies 16 counts of anal rape and 16 counts of sexual assault with a poker.
Prosecuting counsel Pauline Walley SC told the jury in her opening address that the child first told a teacher in school about alleged physical abuse by his father. Social workers became involved and the boy was taken into care.
Counsel said that “over an extended period of time” the boy made further allegations of sexual abuse against his father and mother.
A medical examination was carried out on the child which found no physical trauma related to sexual assault. However, the examining doctor said this did not exclude the possibility of sexual abuse occurring, Ms Walley said.
While the child was in foster care he told specialist garda interviewers about the alleged abuse.
In April last year the child told one of his carers that he “made up” the allegations of sexual abuse and that only physical abuse occurred.
Counsel said that gardaí then spoke to the boy again who told them the allegations were true and that he had said they weren't because he was afraid of the forthcoming trial.
Ms Walley told the jury that in television shows like CSI, things appeared messy at first but were always made clear by the end of the episode. She said real life and criminal trials were not like TV and events were rarely clear.
She said that jurors must not speculate on what might have happened and must judge the case on the evidence alone.
The trial, before Mr Justice Robert Eagar, continues on Thursday when the jury will hear from the now 12-year-old boy.