A 56-year-old Offaly man has been sentenced to one and a half years in prison, with the last nine months suspended, for two counts of indecent assault in the 1980s on a boy aged eight or nine.
The recent circuit court heard that the man, who cannot be named, also admitted to having abused another boy in the 1980s, when he was employed as a care worker with the HSE. The man was not charged in relation to this incident.
Regarding the two counts of indecent assault before the court, the first happened in Offaly on a date believed to be in 1983 or 1984, when the accused was 18 or 19.
The victim and the accused shared a bedroom, and one night after returning from a pub with drink taken, the accused removed his underpants and put his hand under the bedclothes to touch the victim’s penis. The accused then masturbated himself while fondling the victim’s penis.
The accused would later claim that he had a notion the victim enjoyed the indecent assault, but the victim made a statement making it clear that he was totally confused by the entire incident and did not enjoy it.
A second incident occurred in a field in Offaly, on a date between February 20, 1983, and February 19, 1987. The two went for a walk and the accused became aroused and began to touch himself and the victim.
He put his hand inside the victim’s underwear and masturbated himself to ejaculation. The victim later stated that the accused placed the victim’s penis in his mouth.
The accused did not recall placing the victim’s penis in his mouth, however he did not dispute the victim’s version of events and said he may have blocked this aspect of the assault out of his mind.
In a victim impact statement, the injured party said that as a consequence of the abuse he suffered fear, anxiety, suspicion of adults, insecurity, guilt and shame.
When he became an adult, he had relationship difficulties both with his mother and his first wife. He abused alcohol and became depressed, and then became concerned for the safety of his own daughter.
He said that he sometimes still gets flashbacks to when he was a child and has the same feelings he had when he was abused.
Judge Keenan Johnson said: “It is clear that the abuse perpetrated by the accused on the victim had a profound and life-changing effect on him.”
In sentencing, Judge Johnson said that the accused had prayed on a person who was weak, vulnerable and at least 12 years his junior.
He said it was clear the victim’s growth and development had been severely inhibited by the offending, with much of his adult life defined by the effects of the offending in that he suffered alcoholism, breakdown of relationships, anxiety, depression, guilt and shame.
A probation report placed the accused at medium risk of sexual offending. Judge Johnson also noted with concern that the accused had acknowledged that he abused another young boy during the 1980s when he was employed by the HSE as a care worker.
In mitigation, the judge noted that the probation report also indicated that the accused was the victim of sexual abuse from the age of three years.
The judge went on to say that, nevertheless, the accused did know that the actions he took against the victim were wrong, and accordingly he must accept responsibility.
Judge Johnson imposed one a half years in prison, with the final nine months suspended on condition the accused enter a peace bond of four years; he remain under probation supervision for two years; and he engage in weekly group therapy for men who have sexually offended for two years after his release from prison.
In closing, Judge Johnson addressed a few words to the accused’s family, saying that they should acknowledge and empathise with the victim on the wrong he suffered.