A WOMAN who was indecently assaulted as a child came forward recently to report the 40-year-old offence when the 81-year-old man contacted her daughter on social media.
Former Jehovah Witness elder Josef Keys of Hazelwood Close, Glanmire, Co Cork, faced sentencing yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court for the indecent assault dating back approximately 40 years when the child was aged 6 to 8.
Garda Caroline Horgan, who investigated the case, said the victim came forward to make the complaint about the historical indecent assault when the accused made a friend request to her 12-year-old daughter via social media.
Suzanne Lewis, defending, described the social media contact made recently by the 81-year-old as “inadvertent”.
Judge Dara Hayes said of the contact: “That is a concerning aspect of the case.”
Garda Horgan said of the indecent assault which took place in the 1980s, that Josef Keys, who was then aged around 40, offered to teach the child to drive and sat her on his lap in the driver’s seat. She recalled feeling that he was hard in the groin area, Garda Horgan testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the injured party said: “The legacy of having been sexually assaulted as a child impacts me every single day. I am hyper-vigilant to any risk to mine or my family’s safety. When you tried to friend-request [daughter] on social media, I realised you had not changed. That is the reason we are here today.
“I hate the fact that because I was abused as a child, this impacts how I am as a mother. I am paranoid about my daughter’s safety.
"The world was not a safe place for me when I was a child because of you.
“Almost immediately after the sexual assault happened, my life changed. The losses in my life began to mount up… I find it hard to be loved, to accept love and trust love. Even the simplicity of someone looking in my eyes unnerves me.
“I am so grateful that I am in a loving relationship but that relationship is still impacted… by that early childhood trauma.”
The woman’s statement then addressed the accused directly: “I have carried your shame for most of my life. But today I am handing that back to you because it is not mine to carry.
Ms Lewis, the defence barrister, said: “He himself was the victim of serious sexual abuse as a child.”
Ms Lewis referred to the probation officer’s finding that Josef Keys had shown good insight into the harm he caused.
Judge Hayes adjourned sentencing until May 5.