Judge awards €120,000 to Garda over child sexual abuse claims

The garda felt she had a duty in her line of work to seek justice and she said she “cannot in good conscience sit down with anybody else who has experienced this if I haven’t gone through the experience of bringing him to justice”.
Judge awards €120,000 to Garda over child sexual abuse claims

High Court reporters

A High Court judge has awarded €120,000 in damages to a garda sergeant after she claimed she was sexually abused as a child by her cousin.

Mr Justice Alexander Owens said he was “fully satisfied” the woman’s evidence was proof of the matters she complained of. He accepted that the various assaults, as she described them, appeared to be of “escalating severity” during the period.

The woman previously told the court she was sexually abused by her cousin in his bedroom when she was aged between about five and 12 years old. He is approximately 11 years her senior, the court heard.

The man denied all of the claims, telling the court they are “not true at all”. He represented himself in court.

Duty

The garda, represented by John P Kehoe BL and Hazel Cloughley Jones BL, instructed by John M Joy solicitors, said she knew the man was not a person of means. She brought the case because she wanted him “exposed for who he is and what he is done”. She does not want him “hurting another child the way he hurt me”, she told the court.

The garda felt she had a duty in her line of work to seek justice and she said she “cannot in good conscience sit down with anybody else who has experienced this if I haven’t gone through the experience of bringing him to justice”.

Her claim was for damages for personal injuries arising out of, among other things, alleged sexual and physical abuse and oral and digital rape which she says took place on dates between 1984 and 1992.

In giving his oral judgment on Thursday, Mr Justice Owens said the woman’s evidence was “very persuasive”, and it was significant that when the defendant was first confronted with her allegations against him some years ago his response was silence rather than an immediate denial.

The judge was of the view that the events had a substantial impact on her psychological wellbeing over a long number of years. He also accepted that these psychological injuries had been caused by the man’s abuse of her as a child.

The incidents and resulting psychological impact on the woman go back “a long period”, he said. It is an “unfortunate feature” that one of the consequences of sexual abuse is that people live with it for years, he said.

The judge said it was appropriate to award damages of €120,000 to the plaintiff, along with her legal costs.

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