Campaigners call for Cork University Hospital to end 'shocking silence' over assault

Abuse campaigners want Cork University Hospital to end its ‘shocking silence’ over the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl in an all-male room.

Campaigners call for Cork University Hospital to end 'shocking silence' over assault

Abuse campaigners want Cork University Hospital to end its ‘shocking silence’ over the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl in an all-male room.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland CEO Clíona Saidléar and Cork’s Sexual Violence Centre founder Mary Crilly say CUH needs to acknowledge the mistakes it made.

The hospital also needs to make a public assurance it won’t happen again. And, they say, hospital chiefs need to explain what changes they have implemented since the teenager was assaulted.

“CUH’s lack of any substantial comment and relative silence about this case is shocking, given what happened,” says Ms Crilly.

Ms Saidléar said: “I appreciate they say they have reviewed admission protocols, but they need to be saying much more than that.”

She also said acting Health Minister Simon Harris should ask HIQA to investigate child safeguarding at the hospital.

To date, hospital chiefs have only said they have reviewed their admission protocols since the sexual assault.

CUH has refused to say what changes it has brought in since the sexual assault in 2018, despite unprecedented criticism from Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin.

He questioned how a vulnerable young girl was placed in a ward with Andrew O’Donovan, from Butlersgift, Drimoleague, County Cork.

He has a schizophrenic condition and had been attending mental health services since the 1980s yet CUH staff placed him beside the young girl, who was admitted with serious injuries.

"You have to question in circumstances like this what management was doing,” said the judge in his summing up at O’Donovan’s sentencing hearing last month when he got an 18-month suspended jail term.

“There appears to be no system of management or supervision.” Ms Saidléar said: “The hospital should acknowledge they did something wrong, and tell people what they have done to fix this.

"They failed to properly risk assess this situation despite knowing this man’s medical condition. The hospital management should come out and publicly account for what exactly they have done since this incident happened.

“The judge held them to account in the courtroom and I have to wonder, how at least have they responded to what he said?”

She added: “They need to give assurances because this all about trust. There are survivors of sexual abuse that are going in and out of hospitals all the time. They are not only vulnerable because they are ill, but they are also vulnerable because they have a history of sexual abuse. They need to know that they are safe.

Ms Crilly said: “This whole case has appalled me. Even if the man didn’t have a history of mental illness, that girl shouldn’t have been put in with the men.

“A child is a child and a child shouldn’t be put in an adult ward. The hospital needs to come out and make an assurance that this incident will not happen again. I don’t understand why they have not done so already."

CUH were asked for comment.

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