‘Our mother chose our abuser over us’

The stepdaughters of a man who has been jailed for eight years for sexually abusing them for a decade say they will never forgive him and their mother.
‘Our mother chose our abuser over us’

Despite John Joe Patterson being found guilty earlier this year of 39 counts of sexual assault, the mother of Emma and Vanessa Witherow still refuses to believe her daughters’ accounts.

Speaking after Patterson, 55, of Thurles, Co Tipperary, was handed down an eight-year sentence with the final 18 months suspended, the two sisters, who had waived their right to anonymity, said “there would be no forgiveness”.

“None of them will ever darken my door again,” Emma said.

“It is hard because everyone needs their mother.

“I am a mother myself and I would never do that to my kids.”

Vanessa added: “It’s a mother’s job to protect her children and she didn’t protect us. She let us down. Never will I speak to her again.”

Patterson, a former bus driver and milk man who ran a Christmas hamper delivery business, previously denied nearly 40 counts of sexual assault on Emma, which began when she was aged nine.

His denial forced her to sit through five weeks of evidence at his trial earlier this year before a jury unanimously found him guilty on the 39 counts of sexual assault.

Yesterday Emma, a mother of two, told Nenagh Circuit Court how she remains “terrified” of Patterson.

“I always felt I had to cover up the body I had as it was dirty, ugly, not fit to be seen,” she said.

Emma, 28, broke down as she described how her mother Frances still refuses to believe that the sexual abuse occurred.

“She totally denied everything she heard, and said I was only attention-seeking,” said Emma.

In an attempt to evade Patterson, Emma aged 18, left the family home, taking Vanessa, 13, with her.

The court heard how Patterson would pull down Emma’s pants and underwear and sexually assault her from behind.

The assaults continued on a daily basis for 10 years.

Patterson pleaded guilty to one of three counts of sexually abusing Vanessa, who was also nine years old when the abuse began.

Losing out on a relationship with their brothers was hard, they said.

“I’m still in shock over the whole thing but losing out on my brothers and stuff has been so hard,” Emma said. “I love them, I always will.”

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