Group attacks media coverage of abuse case

A SUPPORT group for victims of sexual abuse has said it will “very carefully consider” whether to recommend that victims take a case following “highly insensitive” reporting of a high-profile abuse case.

Head of One in Four Maeve Lewis last night condemned media outlets which chose to report material relating to the past sexual history of a brave victim whose father was on Monday found guilty of the systemic abuse of his son.

Ms Lewis said the 20-year-old had been failed first by the child-care system that did not intervene to protect him, and now by the criminal justice system that allowed his childhood actions to be made public.

During the course of the trial, which ended in a conviction on Monday, the defence asked that the past sexual history of the victim be admitted in evidence.

This was allowed, but the trial judge requested that the media would not report on this sensitive material.

Ms Lewis slammed the media coverage of this part of the case as “odious”.

“A young man who, together with his brothers and sisters endured enormous suffering as children, may now face public reaction to his childhood actions,” she said.

“We must ask if this type of media coverage will encourage other victims to come forward?”

Head of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop also expressed her dismay at the situation.

She said the convicted man’s defence team should never have been allowed cross-examine the victim on his past sexual history.

“This in our opinion is a gross misuse by the legal system, of a trial procedure which should always be used sparingly in these cases. In a case of childhood sexual abuse we believe it has no place,” she said.

“There is no doubt but this was used in an attempt to discredit the victim. While the judge requested the media not to report on the content of this aspect of the trial, some media ignored this request and as a result have subjected this brave young man and his siblings to inappropriate public exposure and breached the family’s entitlement to anonymity.”

Meanwhile, it is understood a report into the HSE’s handling of the victim and his siblings care is set to be published.

The inquiry, chaired by Norah Gibbons director of advocacy of Barnardos’ children’s charity, will hand a report, which is expected to have significant findings, to the HSE in the near future.

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