‘Three students raped during Freshers Week’

‘Three students raped during Freshers Week’
Mary Crilly of the Cork Sexual Violence Centre said none of the three students wanted to report it to the Gardaí as they had been drinking and felt it was their fault. Pic; Larry Cummins

THREE first-year college students have told the head of Cork’s Sexual Violence Centre Mary Crilly they were raped since the start of September.

Ms Crilly said the three young women, who were starting college at University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology, have come to her centre detailing incidents of rape. It’s understood that at least one of the sexual assaults took place in student accommodation.

Two of the new students have since dropped out of college and left Cork and Ms Crilly is now working with the third student to see if she will stay in college.

Ms Crilly said none of the three students wanted to report it to the Gardaí as they had been drinking and felt it was their fault.

Ms Crilly said that three allegations of sexual assault or rape during Freshers Week would be the norm. “There is probably more that we don’t know about because a lot of people won’t come to us or won’t go anywhere,” she said.

Ms Crilly raised the issue while discussing the need for further resources for the new garda Protective Services Unit (PSU) which deals with all sexual assault issues.

“It’s very busy,” Ms Crilly said.

“You are dealing with child sexual abuse, you’ve got domestic violence, trafficking, a whole range of things.”

The unit is supposed to have one Inspector, two sergeants and 10 gardaí, but recently lost its inspector to promotion.

Ms Crilly said for a city the size of Cork there should be 20 gardaí in the unit.

“In a city this size to have only a few people dealing with this type of thing is outrageous,” she said.

Ms Crilly also objected to a recent policy change that now saw historic cases being dealt with by district stations.

“In my experience, it wasn’t working at the districts.

“Historic cases should still be able to be heard by the PSU unit. Rapes cases are in some ways easier to investigate because it is one person, one time, whereas interviewing family members, saying this and that, and you really need someone who knows what they are at,” she said.

Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said he had no concerns that cases would not be treated as proficiently by the detective units in the respective stations where the incident took place.

“The incidents that would be referred back to the districts would be relatively straightforward cases.

“They would not be of a great complexity, there is a sifting process done,” he said.

In relation to the young women who have attended the Cork Sexual Violence Centre with allegations of sexual assault, Chief Supt McPolin said: “If there are incidents of sexual assault or rape reported to the Gardaí they are investigated fully and there is no issue in relation to that.”

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