Woman sues assailant over 10 years of abuse
Former accountant did not oppose action
Sinéad McCarthy Garofalo leaving court yesterday after giving evidence. Photograph: Collins
A woman has told the High Court her life “was ruined” and her childhood “stolen” by a man who sexually abused her over 10 years. Mr Justice George Birmingham will assess the damages due to Sinéad McCarthy Garofalo today.
Ms McCarthy Garofalo (45), of Palmerstown Wood, Dublin, has sued Bernard Delaney for sexually abusing her numerous times in Dublin, over a period beginning in 1972 when she was aged four and ending 10 years later in 1982.
As a result, she says she has suffered from depression and alcoholism and has been unable to form meaningful relationships with other people. The court also heard she suffered from anorexia nervosa and cancer which she believes is linked to her abuse.
Mr Delaney, Oaktree Lawn, Castleknock, Dublin, was sentenced to five years imprisonment at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to sexually and indecently assaulting seven girls during the 1970s and 1980s. The former accountant was released from Arbour Hill Prison more than a year ago.
In addition to the criminal complaints made against Mr Delaney, Ms McCarthy Garofalo instructed her solicitors to bring a civil claim against him.
Mr Delaney, now in his 70s, had not opposed the action and the case came before Mr Justice Birmingham yesterday for assessment of damages only. Mr Delaney was not present or legally represented.
In evidence, Ms McCarthy Garofalo said Mr Delaney was well known and was trusted in her area and by her parents.
The abuse began when she was very young and stopped when she was in her teens, she said. Her life “went off the rails” as a result. It was many years later when she, and others, first made a formal complaint about Mr Delaney.
He “stole my childhood, and others’ as well”, she said.
She told the court she blamed herself for what had happened to her and the abuse had made her feel worthless. She was unable to bond or form proper relationships with others and, during adolescence and adulthood, got involved in what turned out to be abusive relationships.
One time she came across Mr Delaney while in Dublin city centre and ran away because she was so upset.
She told Richard Kean SC, her family had been “brilliant” to her. The worst thing for her was that her parents blamed themselves for what had happened but it was not their fault. While she hoped “things will get better”, she often felt “it’s never going to be okay”.
Dr Kevin Lambe, a psychologist who has counselled Ms McCarthy Garofalo, said her life had been badly affected. She abused alcohol and drugs from a young age and was involved in chaotic relationships.