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 is also accused of raping him, including with a poker, over the four-year period. The parents deny the charges and told gardaí 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. They 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.
Pauline Walley, prosecuting, told the jury in her opening address that the child first told a teacher 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 he “made up” the allegations of sexual abuse and that only physical abuse occurred. Counsel said gardaí then spoke to the boy again who told them the allegations were true and he had said they were not because he was afraid of the forthcoming trial.
Ms Walley told the juror that in television shows such as CSI, things appear messy at first but are always made clear by the end. She said real life and criminal trials are not like TV and events are rarely clear. She said jurors must not speculate on what might have happened and must judge the case on evidence alone.
The trial, before Mr Justice Robert Eagar, continues tomorrow, when the jury will hear from the boy, 12.
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