Sex abuse swimming coach gets suspended sentence

Convicted sex abuser swimming coach Diarmuid “Derry” O’Rourke has been given a suspended sentence for indecently assaulting a young student in the early 1970’s who may have been his first victim.

Convicted sex abuser swimming coach Diarmuid “Derry” O’Rourke has been given a suspended sentence for indecently assaulting a young student in the early 1970’s who may have been his first victim.

O’Rourke (aged 64) has previously been jailed for 12 years in 1998 for sexual assault, indecent assault and statutory rape of children. He received further sentences in 2000 and 2005 for sexual abuse of children between the 1970’s and 1992. He was released three and a half years ago.

O’Rourke with an address at Barrack Street, Bailieborough, Co Cavan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to indecently assaulting the then 14-year-old girl on dates between September 1971 and March 1972.

The victim came forward after seeing media publicity surrounding O’Rourke’s convictions and made a complaint to gardaí in 2008.

Judge Katherine Delahunt said it appeared that these were probably the first offences O’Rourke committed.

She said the history of O’Rourke’s offending was well known and he had already served a significant sentence comprising of three blocks of convictions. She noted that he was under “intensive supervision” since his release and was taking care not to put himself in situations where there would be “temptation.”

She said she did not believe the community would be best served by sending him back to prison but he should continue with the path he was currently on. She imposed a three-year sentence suspended for six years on condition he continue to follow all directions of The Probation Service.

He is already on the sex offenders register.

Garda Edward Vaughan told Ms Karen O’Connor BL, prosecuting, that the victim was in second year at the school when O’Rourke became her swimming instructor.

She said at first he was very nice to her and would chat to her. On one occasion he came behind her in the pool, put his hand inside her swimming suit and felt her breast. She said she froze and it seemed to last for ever.

The abuse then continued over a six-month period. The girl would try to stay with other people in the pool but he managed to get her on her own. On another occasion he asked her to put her hand down his trousers but she refused.

The girl did not tell anybody about the abuse and, despite having a great love of sport, she gave up swimming and her interaction with O’Rourke ended.

The victim did not make a complaint until July 2008 after becoming aware of O’Rourke’s previous convictions through the media. O’Rourke was arrested later that year and admitted he had abused the girl “on two or three occasions.”

In a victim impact statement, portions of which were outlined to the court, the woman said the abuse has had a huge effect on her life and she felt “shame, humiliation and grief.” She said she believed she had underachieved at school because of the abuse.

The woman said she felt guilt and shame at not coming forward earlier.

Gda Vaughan agreed with defence counsel, Mr Patrick Gageby SC, that there had been enormous publicity surrounding O’Rourke and that this had been the trigger for the woman coming forward.

He agreed that O’Rourke had been living in a small town in Ireland since his release and had not come to garda attention. He agreed he had been existing on a job seekers allowance and most of his activities caught the attention of the media.

Mr Gageby handed a probation report into court which he said “is probably the first document which has been favourable in any way in the last twenty years” to O’Rourke. He has been subject to post release supervision since his release and has been attending a treatment programme.

He said he presented as “a rather sad, 64-year-old man, with no occupation.”

“By his own conduct his marriage has foundered, he is a pariah and his name is notorious,” he said.

Mr Gageby said O’Rourke’s “world has come crashing down because of his deviant behaviour” but he was keen to stay on the road of rehabilitation.

He said he had done what a lot of sex offenders had not done and examined his offending which made him aware of the effect the abuse had on his victims and how he had wrongly justified it to himself.

Mr Gageby submitted that it appeared O’Rourke had not re-offended in the 18 years since 1992. He said that while serving his 12-year sentence he was sentenced again in 2000 and 2005 for offences in the same time period.

He noted that these offences before the court were probably the first O’Rourke had committed and if they had been dealt with in 1998, 2000 or 2005 they would have been rolled into his previous sentence.

“This is hopefully the last in a dismal catalogue of offending,” said Gageby.

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