A 55-year-old Laois man has been given a three-year sentence, suspended for five years, for the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl.
The man, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault on the girl, on April 1 and May 31, 2014, at a location in Laois.
The circuit court heard that in April/May 2014, the accused started hugging and kissing the girl, which led to the two incidents before the court.
Both incidents involved the accused, who was 52 at the time, lifting the girl’s undergarments and kissing her naked breasts and fondling her vagina. He also opened her clothing and kissed her on the lower abdomen and in the area of her pubic hairline.
“It is clear that the offending was serious and constituted a serious breach of trust on the part of the accused,” said Judge Keenan Johnson.
In her original victim impact statement, the girl said her life had changed as a result of the assaults, leaving her emotionally drained and with more anger problems than a normal teenager.
She said she was suicidal and hadn’t been to school since, and she and her mother have had to move from the area.
Judge Johnson said he had now received an update on the girl’s current position from her mother, in which he said it was clear that at the time of offending, the girl was a very vulnerable person and the offending had a greater negative impact on her than might otherwise have been the case.
She is afraid of older men, particularly those with grey hair who look similar to the accused. The judge noted that she is of the opinion that she doesn’t need any further counselling, but this was at odds to professional advice .
The judge said that, having heard evidence from the girl’s mother, the girl’s absence from school for the last two years cannot be attributed solely to the consequences and effects of the assaults.
In sentencing, Judge Johnson noted that a psychological report on the accused indicated that his cognitive abilities are in the borderline range.
“It was clear when the accused gave testimony to this court that he had little conception of the grave wrong he had perpetrated,” said Judge Johnson.
He said the accused had now attended for one-to-one counselling, during which the accused repeatedly expressed guilt and shame.
The accused had already paid €5,000 compensation and was offering a further €2,000.
The judge imposed a three-year sentence, suspended for five years on condition the accused enter into a peace bond; he complete the Phoenix programme, a therapeutic intervention programme for people who have acted in a sexually deviant way; he is to pay a total of €10,000 to the girl, which includes the €5,000 already paid; and he is to have no contact with the injured party or her family.