A Westmeath father who admitted during counselling sessions that he had abused other children has been sentenced to eight years for the rape and sexual assault of his wife’s 13-year-old niece.
The counsellor’s reports also stated that the man claimed that the children he had abused “often initiated it and seduced him”.
The 54-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the now 15-year-old victim, had been attending counselling before gardaí were alerted to his crimes. He admitted having “distorted feelings towards children and their sexuality”.
He told gardaí that he had had sex with the girl, touched her and allowed her to perform oral sex on him, but claimed she had agreed to it after he asked her if he could.
He also claimed that he had “accidentally” raped her during an incidence of abuse.
The man has no previous convictions and does not face any similar charges. He continued to abuse the girl while he attended for counselling.
The man’s defence counsel David Goldberg SC said during the course of his client’s counselling sessions in 2010 and 2012, he outlined “other incidences” when he had abused other children.
The man also disclosed that he had been abused himself as a child, claiming his brother had molested him, and he had believed this sort of behaviour was “the norm”.
The man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to charges of rape, oral rape and sex assault on the girl between March 2006 and June 2010.
Shane Costelloe BL, prosecuting said the charges were representative of 15 similar charges which occurred between 2004 and 2010, when the victim was aged between eight and 13 years old.
The court heard that two incidences of abuse occurred in the presence of the man’s young boy while the child was preoccupied.
On two other occasions the man sneaked into the girl’s home while everyone else was sleeping, took her out of her bed, drove her off in his car and molested her. He also took her sister with him during one of these incidences and the other girl screamed when she witnessed the man touching her sister.
The local prosecuting garda told Mr Costelloe that the offences first came to light when the man’s wife overheard him talking to her niece on the phone and thought something was “amiss”.
She approached him about it but he denied that “anything untoward” was happening between them.
The woman then went to her sister’s home, and that of the victim, her niece. When the teenager admitted that the man had molested her, the gardaí were contacted.
Mr Justice Paul Carney said he was taking into account “the inherent gravity of the offence, the multiplicity of the offences, the disparity in age between the man and his victim and the breach of trust.”
He said he did not consider the fact that the man had undergone counselling a mitigating factor because it did not deter him from continuing to abuse the girl.
Mr Justice Carney sentenced the man to eight years in prison and suspended the last two years on numerous conditions including that he stay away from the victim upon his release.
He also ordered that the man undergo 18 months' post-release supervision.
The garda agreed with Mr Costelloe that the teenager had been told she was entitled to come to court and make a victim impact report but she declined to do either. Her mother and family were in court to support her, while the man’s wife and older daughter were also present.
Mr Goldberg said at the conclusion of his client’s therapy it was found that he has since been able to “separate himself from the inappropriate feelings he had towards children” and “no longer endorses distorted opinions of feelings towards children and their sexuality”.