A college lecturer has been jailed for sexually assaulting two of his nieces at family gatherings and sleepovers, in Limerick and Dublin, more than 20 years ago.
John Hogan, 59, of Ashdale Avenue, Terenure, Dublin, who is married with a family, was today jailed for three years with the final year suspended at Limerick Circuit Court.
Hogan pleaded guilty to five counts of sexually assaulting his nieces from when they were aged eight and 10, on dates between 1994 and 2001. Five additional counts of Hogan sexually assaulting the two girls were taken into consideration by the court.
Hogan can be identified after the court heard that his “extraordinary brave” nieces, Niamh Richardson, aged 29, of Clonkeen, Lisnagry, Co Limerick, and, Caitríona Hickey, 37, of Econ, Murrow, Co Limerick, waived their right to anonymity.
Ms Richardson and Ms Hickey said they wanted “predator” Hogan to be identified, in order to protect other children from him, and they hoped it would encourage others who have suffered any type of sexual abuse to come forward and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Hogan admitted targeting his young nieces at large family gatherings at their homes. He would often put them on his lap and fondle their private parts and grope them during sleepovers.
On one occasion, he quickly hopped back into his own bed when he heard his unsuspecting wife coming towards a room and interrupt him abusing Ms Richardson who had been asleep on a mattress on the floor along with four other children, following a party at her home.
Ms Richardson told gardaí that Hogan had left her in physical “pain” following the sexual assault in 2001.
Ms Hickey told gardaí she would cry at night while babysitting Hogan’s children at his home in Dublin, because she knew she could not hide from him there.
She said Hogan would become aroused whilst giving her inappropriate massages that would lead to Hogan sexually assaulting her, and that the assaults occurred over a number of years.
When confronted by members of his two nieces families after they learned of the assaults in 2018, Hogan admitted “having demons” and that he was “getting help”.
After this he was arrested by gardaí but initially did not answer any questions about the assaults, but later pleaded guilty in court.
The assaults by Hogan have completely “fractured” the family dynamic, the court heard.
Dressed in a shirt, tie, slacks, and a blazer, and wearing a face mask, Hogan sat in court with his arms folded and legs crossed, and showed no emotion as his two nieces read out harrowing victim impact statements.
Ms Hickey told the court she had been “an innocent, timid, shy child” who was “groomed and manipulated” by Hogan who had “laughed off or ignored” her pleas for him to “stop”.
“I was silent for so long, I didn’t know how to express myself or even know how to explain what was going on in my head/
Ms Hickey, who continues to suffer with “panic attacks”, said she hoped that exposing people like Hogan would help “create a more honest and open future” for others experiencing abuse, and for children in general “to know that silence has no place when they are afraid or uncomfortable”.
She said Hogan’s jail sentence would “not change nor erase the abuse”, but she was finally able to “stand up for the little girl in me and give her a voice”.
“I have done everything I can to protect and empower the younger generation to speak out, I have found my courage and voice too late to protect myself, but I am no longer afraid to speak out to protect (others), this is not my secret or shame and I finally know that,” Ms Hickey added.
Niamh Richardson told the court: “What happened to me as a child should never happen, and I started this legal journey to ensure that John Hogan doesn’t to do this to anyone else.”
“When I was eight years old, I was sexually abused by someone who was meant to protect me, someone I was meant to be able to trust, and since that day I’ve had to protect myself, I have to protect eight-year-old me from the monsters that are out there, and even here, in this room.
“Yes, there will be a sentence handed down, but that will be for a finite time, but eight-year-old me was given a lifelong sentence.”
The two women thanked members of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB), led by Detective Garda Orlaith Ryan, Henry Street Garda Station, Limerick.
Ms Richardson added: “John Hogan is not the only person who does this, we are not the only people it has been done to in general, so if one person gets the courage to come forward out of this, then that’s a brilliant outcome from our point of view, that more of these people are being highlighted as well.”
Ms Hickey said that while dealing with the impact of disclosing the assaults and going through the court process had been “horrendous”, it was also “worthwhile, because you get to have your voice heard for the first time”.
The court heard in mitigation that Hogan had no convictions, was remorseful, had pleaded guilty, and had offered them €15,000 compensation as a token of his remorse.
Hogan’s barrister said a probationary report concluded he was at low risk of reoffending and that his conviction, and the publicity of the case, would “likely have consequences” for his future as “a lecturer in an institution”.
Judge Tom O’Donnell said Ms Hickey and Ms Richardson had “shown enormous bravery” in disclosing the assaults.
Addressing them, he said: “To both of you, you have done nothing wrong, it is (Hogan) who has done wrong, a wrong for which he must be made responsible for his actions.
“It was an enormous breach of trust, grooming took place and the assaults were both opportunistic and planned and took place often during family occasions for (Hogan’s) pleasure,” said the judge.
He remarked the four years it had taken for the case to come to court had “added further stress” on the victims “which the court believes is unacceptable”.
“I hope that today starts the healing process for you,” said the judge.
Hogan showed no emotion as his sentence was imposed, and he waved briefly at his wife who was sitting in the court, as he was led away by prison officers to begin his jail sentence.