Parents 'torn about what to do' when young daughter said she didn't like how accused créche worker touched her

The parents of a third child allegedly sexually assaulted by a créche care worker did not think their daughter had been sexually assaulted when she told them she didn't like how the accused touched her.

Parents 'torn about what to do'  when young daughter said she didn't like how accused créche worker touched her

The parents of a third child allegedly sexually assaulted by a créche care worker did not think their daughter had been sexually assaulted when she told them she didn't like how the accused touched her.

The child's father told the jury that his daughter, then aged 7, first told him on the 2016 August Bank holiday weekend that she didn't like the way the accused took her off his knee and where he put his hand.

“I asked her where does he put his hands. She pointed towards her groin, her genitals, and said he digs his fingers in or words to that effect,” he testified.

He said the following Tuesday he and his wife met with the créche manager, a woman. He said he told her it wasn't appropriate for children to be sitting on a créche worker's knee and he had never seen any of the other workers do it.

“I explained I wasn't making any allegations and if I had been sure that what [his daughter] had described was sexual abuse I would have gone to gardaí,” he said.

He said the manager was shocked and agreed it was inappropriate for children to be sitting on the knees of staff, and said she would ensure that all staff would be told it wasn't appropriate.

'We can't do that anymore'

The witness told the jury: “We were torn between what to do, whether to report it to gardaí. We were aware what a serious issue this was if it turned out it wasn't abuse.”

We decided to raise the issue with the créche and I spoke to [the child] every day to make sure there was nothing going on.

He told the court that he and his wife told their daughter they had reported the incident to the créche. He said he noticed in the following weeks that staff were less physical with the children and “more stand-offish”.

“A few weeks after, a child attempted to give [the defendant] a hug and he said, 'We can't do that anymore',” the witness said.

The girl's mother said that after meeting with the créche manager “we were happy enough that things would be sorted out”. She agreed with Sean Guerin SC, defending, that the issue was resolved by a commitment that children sitting on the lap of carers would stop.

She agreed that “you wouldn't have settled for that if you thought your child was being sexually abused”.

“That's not to say you weren't concerned; you spoke to her, you were alert for any sign of trouble, and there was none,” counsel said. The witness agreed.

“As far as we were aware absolutely nothing else happened to [her child],” she told the jury.

Other allegations

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that in December 2016 the parents were made aware by creche management of other allegations. The child's father said he then went to gardaí.

The child's mother said she then spoke to her daughter to see if she knew anything about the other allegations. She said her daughter became cross with her and told her mother she was "never going to tell her anything again".

The 29-year-old man is accused of 23 counts of sexually assaulting four girls at a Leinster créche on dates between February 2015 and December 2016. He denies the charges.

The trial continues before Judge Elma Sheahan and a jury. No parties in the case can be named to protect the identity of the complainants.

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