A young woman has spoken of her disgust at the way she was sexually assaulted during a night out with college friends while passers-by recorded the incident and posted footage on social media.
She said the six-year sentence her attacker received was “a better outcome” than she expected. After struggling emotionally in the aftermath of the incident, she has found the support received since speaking out to have been “fantastic”.
Former karate champion Bagrat Kudzievi, of Albert Road, Cork city, who was living in Ireland illegally, was sentenced to six years for the assault and has been ordered to return to his native Georgia on his release from custody.
The 29-year-old was unanimously convicted by a jury at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin in early November following a trial in which he faced two counts of the sexual assault of Rachel McElroy at locations in Cork city centre on the evening of October 19th, 2019.
The victim was just 18 years old when the incidents occurred. It took place on her first night out with college friends.
Ms McElroy, who watched the sentencing hearing on Wednesday by video link in Cork, said that she wanted to be identified in media reports about the case.
She spoke movingly after the sentencing hearing, urging other people who find themselves in her position to come forward.
Ms Justice Tara Burns, who sentenced Kudzievi at a sitting of the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, told Ms McElroy that she had experienced “every young woman’s worst nightmare”.
Speaking after the sentencing, Ms McElroy said she decided to waive her right to anonymity in order to reach other people who may have suffered similar trauma to hers.
“It is okay to speak up about stuff like this. It is never okay to hold it in. It impacts so much on your life and I feel like talking about it even to strangers helps me a lot and has lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders,” she said.
“I find it very healing. Speaking out and helping other people.The amount of help and support I got from speaking out was fantastic.
“It was my first college night out with my friends. We went out to enjoy ourselves. It is a night I have no memory of, only of being in the Garda station getting my mouth swabbed. How could people have thoughts like that?
“To take something from someone’s life that they will never be able to get back. It was a horrible thing to do. For that man I have no sympathy. I am very disgusted.”
Ms McElroy said in the aftermath of the incident she turned to alcohol for a period but with the assistance of her family, friends and Det Garda Donal Daly she has managed to get her life back on a more even keel.
Ms McElroy admitted that she was hurt that strangers had decided to record what the defendant was doing to her outside the nightclub instead of seeking help.
“I found them very disrespectful. I was disgusted in that. They could have helped or pulled us apart. But they would rather taken a video and put it all over social media.”
The trial had been tough, she said but “the sentence is a better outcome than I expected. I am very happy. I am walking out of here today and he is not.”