“The system seems far more involved with the guilty than it is with the innocent,” the woman told Macroom District Court.
The 16-year-old youth pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the child at her home in Co Cork between January 1 and August 28, 2004.
The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, touched the girl in an indecent and improper manner and exposed himself to her. Judge James McNulty described the assault as “a truly shocking and traumatic event for these decent people”.
The mother told the court the impact on the family of these “heinous sexual acts” was indescribable. It had been devastating and worsened by what appeared to be less concern for the victim and her family than the defendant. She and her husband would have to live with the knowledge of what happened to their daughter until their dying days. “I have always suffered from migraine but I have barely had a clear 24 hours since the event. I cannot sleep. My husband is attempting to blot out the horror by working himself to a standstill and I am concerned with the effect this will have on his health.”
She said it was impossible to say what effect the assault would have on the child, whose night terrors had escalated in recent months, or on her seven-year-old brother who had witnessed an assault on at least one occasion. She hoped the penalty the court would impose on the youth would reflect the concern of the State for the child and her family. “We hope it will give a clear signal that this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable, whatever the mitigating circumstances.”
Dr Gillian Moore-Groarke, who has worked with the youth since the incident came to light, said he had a low, average borderline IQ and was near to being mildly retarded. He was doing the Junior Cert this year, but was unlikely to continue in full-time education. He realised that what he did was wrong and in showing remorse acknowledged the impact it had on the child and her family.
Judge McNulty said, if the victim’s family had expected the youth to be “publicly flogged or ruthlessly punished” they would be disappointed because justice had to be administered fairly, taking all the facts and circumstances into account. His concern was for the victim and her family and he wanted to see a good deal of healing and time pass before he imposed a penalty.
He ordered that the child and her parents be seen by a psychologist at the expense of the defendant’s parents.
He adjourned the case until November 16.