A former garda, who has been at the centre of high-profile allegations of child sexual abuse and covering up the murder of a newborn baby, has gone public in order to clear his name.
Frank Mullen, a founder of the Garda Representative Association, has told the Irish Examiner that all of the allegations made against him are completely false.
He, along with 11 other individuals in Dalkey, Co Dublin, were accused by Cynthia Owen of being involved a paedophile ring to which she was hired out as a child by her parents.
The Dalkey House of Horrors scandal has been prominent in the media since Ms Owen first made her allegations 12 years ago. She had also claimed that she was the mother of a baby whose body was found in Dún Laoghaire in 1973 with multiple stab wounds.
A coroner’s court in 2007 ruled she was the mother of baby Noleen, conceived as the result of a rape.
Ms Owen grew up in a family that was highly dysfunctional. Her parents were alcoholics. Two of her eight siblings, and a niece who was reared with them, took their own lives. Her niece left a detailed account of sexual abuse in their childhood home.
At 15, Ms Owen escaped her home when she was sent to live with relatives in Wales in 1977. In 1995, she made a number of allegations about abuse in the family home. Included in this was an allegation that she was the mother of a baby found stabbed to death.
Ms Owen also alleged that Frank Mullen was involved in a cover-up during the investigation into the baby’s death, which he denies vehemently.
Mr Mullen, who is now 78, says the allegations have had a devastating impact on the lives of him, his family, and the other men named by Ms Owen.
“All of us whom she accused were well known within the community so maybe that was why she used our names,” he said. “That’s the only reason we can think of. None of it is true and it has had a devastating effect on my family.”
His wife, Ellen, says the whole family has suffered as a result of the allegations and the media focus that has been on her husband through the years when he was not named publicly.
“My youngest daughter rang crying one day,” Ellen said. “She said there’s a photo of dad in the paper and it’s about sex abuse and his face was blacked out. She recognised his jacket and everything else about him.”
She said the continuing media attention has been highly stressful. She says that, on one occasion, a reporter more or less camped outside their home for days.
“She was parked across the road from 10 in the morning,” Ellen said. “And then when Frank came home from a swim, I had opened the gate to let him in and she came over and passed some remark in the gate. It was awful.”
Mr Mullen says he was prompted to go public as he believes the gardaí have failed to properly vindicate him. A file on Ms Owen’s allegations has been sent to the DPP eight times in the last decade, with a result each time of no prosecution being recommended.
The family has received support from friends in their community, but Mr Mullen feels State agencies, particularly the gardaí, have not investigated the matter properly, which, if they did, he says, he would be completely vindicated.
“It’s gone on for over 10 years and different chief supers have given me promises that my name would be cleared,” he said. “The file has never been finished and my name has not been properly vindicated. I carried out my own investigations and gave them the information but that doesn’t appear to have been taken into account.”
The allegations were also the focus of a review ordered by the minister for justice in 2007 and a HSE investigation, neither of which came to definitive conclusions.
Ms Owen wrote a book about her upbringing and has repeatedly called for a public inquiry into the affair. Last year, a panel set up to review garda malpractice in over 200 cases, ruled that no further investigation was merited in investigating Ms Owen’s allegations.
Throughout the whole ordeal, Mr Mullen has protested his innocence and is hoping by going public he will finally clear his name.
“We’re five generations in Dalkey and I couldn’t leave a legacy like that behind me,” he said. “I had to clear my name before I departed this world.”
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