Two more women make claims about retired Kerry-based judge

Two more women make claims about retired Kerry-based judge

James O'Connor retired as a judge in 2018. File picture: Kerry's Eye

Two more women have alleged they were subjected to inappropriate behaviour by retired Kerry-based judge James O’Connor.

That brings to three the number of women who have now come forward. All three were before the judge in a family law setting.

The two latest women to go public say they are speaking out because of the “bravery” of Ms A, who, as reported in the Irish Examiner yesterday, has initiated a personal injury claim over the alleged conduct of Judge O’Connor.

The second woman, Ms B, says her family law case was protracted and that she was a regular visitor to Judge O’Connor’s court.

She claims he approached her in a supermarket one day, addressing her by her first name.

“When I was finished he told me to wait outside the door for him. Outside he asked me for my phone number. What could I do? You’re on your own with small kids and he’s the judge.”

Ms B claims the judge repeatedly phoned and texted her after that. She agreed to meet him for a cup of tea.

“I took my two kids with me. I knew what he was doing was wrong but what was I going to do about it? The whole thing was bizarre when I look back on it.”

At some stage after that meeting, Judge O’Connor stopped texting and phoning her, she claims.

A third woman, Ms C, claims that during her family law case, she found herself alone with the judge in his chambers and he asked her would she be interested in meeting him for a cup of coffee.

“If I said the wrong thing, what was he going to do?” the woman told the Irish Examiner.

“I told him it was a small town and he was well known and I couldn’t afford to have people speaking about me.

“He said, ‘If you change your mind come and stand at the back of the court and I’ll know why you’re there’.”

Ms C claims she had two further encounters with the judge, one in the court where he mistakenly thought that she was present to meet him in a personal capacity and another occasion when she was working near the courthouse in her town in Co Kerry.

“He said hello and said in a low voice, ‘can I have your phone number?’ I said I didn’t have a phone and walked away. He continued to stare at me for 20 minutes or so while in conversation with someone else.

“When he passed close to me again, he once again asked me for my phone number. I said no and didn’t even try to be polite. He eventually left and I haven’t seen him again.”

Repeated attempts to contact Mr O’Connor have been unsuccessful.

The judge retired from the bench in 2018. Issues around the conduct on the bench were first reported in the Irish Examiner in 2019, although he wasn’t named as the judge in question until today.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy also raised the matter about a “retired Kerry judge” in the Dáil last July.

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