Mary Crilly, the Director of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre, has said the idea of a suspended sentence for "abusing a child is just beyond belief" and called for better guidelines in respect of sex assault and rape cases coming before the courts.
She made the comments after a teenager who raped his niece after viewing internet porn from the age of nine or 10 had a five-year jail sentence suspended on condition he would not go within 50km of the victim for five years.
The 19-year-old is also required to have no access to any child without supervision for the next five years.
Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy had adjourned finalisation of sentencing from Monday until Friday so that the probation service could report on the safeguards that could be put in place for the teenager’s rehabilitation in the community.
The judge then imposed the jail term suspended on multiple conditions, including the recommendation from the probation service that the accused would attend a psychiatrist to investigate the query autism diagnosis.
Other conditions require him to comply fully with probation service directions, in particular in relation to attending at counselling and all therapeutic work aimed at addressing the possibility of re-offending.
Ms Crilly said: "I’ve always believed if someone is found guilty of child sexual abuse that they have to get mandatory sentences, then after that the judge can use whatever discretion they want:
Ms Crilly said she hoped the Director of Public Prosecutions will appeal the leniency of the sentence in this case and that he seeks a review of this five-year suspended sentence.
"I admire the courage of the victim in this case by going ahead and speaking up."
Mary Crilly said her Cork-city based service The Cork Sexual Violence Centre offers counselling for sex abuse victims aged from 14 years up.