Abuse victims: 'Shameful verdict sends all the wrong messages'

A group founded by victims of sexual abuse has said that yesterday’s verdict by Judge Carney in the case of a 72-year-old man convicted of raping his daughter for many years will send the wrong message to victims of abuse.

Abuse victims: 'Shameful verdict sends all the wrong messages'

A group founded by victims of sexual abuse has said that yesterday’s verdict by Judge Carney in the case of a 72-year-old man convicted of raping his daughter for many years will send the wrong message to victims of abuse.

Patrick O'Brien from Old Court Avenue, Bray, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 16 charges of the rape and indecent assault of Fiona Doyle at Mackintosh Park, Pottery Road, Dun Laoghaire from 1973 to 1982.

O'Brien raped his daughter so often it became for her "as frequent as having dinner", the trial heard.

He received a 12-year sentence, with nine years suspended.

Healing Through Hope and Humour, a group founded by Joyce, June and Paula Kavanagh - who suffered an abusive childhood in Ballyfermot, Dublin, from their father - said Irish society "should be outraged by yesterday's verdict".

Mr Justice Paul Carney branded these "heinous crimes", and said it was one of the worst cases of abuse of a daughter one can possibly find.

However he gave consideration to the serious ill health of the accused and suspended most of the sentence.

The group said the only way abuse can survive "is through secrecy and silence" and the message that victims will hear "is that the judicial system, neither understands the full impacts of abuse, or values the fact that abusers need to be held accountable for their crimes".

They said they believe that Ms Doyle, the victim in yesterday's court case, is being used as a pawn between Judge Carney and the judicial system "rather than Judge Carney doing his job and ensuring that justice is done".

Joyce Kavanagh said: "Until we as a society get comfortable speaking about the full impacts of abuse, victims will continue to hold all the shame and guilt associated with this particular crime. In no other crime does the victim take on the responsibility for what is done to them.

"The only way forward is to encourage victims to speak up and speak out."

June Kavanagh said: "Perpetrators need to know that they will be held accountable for their actions no matter how long it takes to bring them to court. If we need to wheel them in on a stretcher to attend their hearing then that is what is required."

The group concluded by saying that victims need to understand that speaking up is vital if they are ever going to leave their abuse behind them.

They said: "They need to be given the clear message that they are not responsible, it is not their shame to hold."

In the Dáil, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he hopes victims of rape will not be put off coming forward following the sentencing yesterday.

Dáil rules prevent criticism of a sentence of the courts.

Mr Kenny said he hoped the Court of Criminal Appeal would deal with the case urgently and he praised what he said was Fiona Doyle's courage in going public.

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