A school principal being sued for allegedly raping a girl in his car when he gave her lifts to school has told the High Court he never groomed, sexually assaulted or raped her.
The man said that after gardaí arrested and released him on foot of the allegations, he felt what had happened to him over the allegations was “horrific”.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later decided there should be no prosecution.
He is being sued by the now young woman who claims he repeatedly sexually assaulted her and later repeatedly raped her up to three to four times a week on the 14-mile journey to school in 2009 and 2010. He says it never happened.
On the fourth day of the case, the man, who has been a teacher for 38 years and principal of two schools, told his counsel, Conall MacCarthy BL, that she would come to his house at around 8.30am and he would drop her outside the gate of her school which was about 100 metres from his school. He would arrive at 8.55am or 9am, he said.
He gave her lifts until the end of term in 2009 and during the summer, her family dropped a €60 petrol voucher in his door by way of a thank you, he said.
The girl texted him that summer asking if he could continue giving the lifts and he agreed.
Asked about her claims that she was regularly 10 to 15 minutes late for school as a result of the assaults and rapes, the man said he could not be late for school as principal as his was a very busy school with hundreds of pupils and a lot of work to do before the day began.
He said he was never late unless it was by prearrangement.
He said their conversations in the car were general chit-chat followed by silences and he was “not a natural speaker”.
He never took back roads or went down laneways to park or into a farmyard entrance, as she claimed. He only went a different way when there was a detour for roadworks or he was taking his dog to the groomers, he said.
Asked about her specific allegations of grooming by asking questions about her dress and relationships, then exposing himself, then getting her to touch his penis, forcing her to perform oral sex and then rapes, he said repeatedly he did not do any of those things.
He also said it was impossible, as she had claimed, for him to put back her seat and then climb over to rape her because he was a man who weighed 16 and a half stone, was six foot two inches tall, and it was a saloon car.
When she contacted him again about resuming lifts in September 2010, he decided not to do so because he had not got a thank you for bringing her for the whole of the previous year.
The next he heard from her family was in early 2011 when her father arrived at his door asking him to come to a meeting in a hotel with a health worker to discuss “an incident” that had happened on the way to school. He told the father no incident happened and later sent a solicitor’s letter declining the invitation to a meeting.
After she made a complaint to gardaí, he had to attend a meeting with the Health Service Executive, which advised him to tell his school’s board of management about the allegations. An emergency board meeting took place and he was asked by the board to return to work after five days.
In July 2011, he was arrested by appointment and released following an interview.
He said the allegations had been a nightmare which had been “desperate” for him and his family and he was subsequently diagnosed with cancer, he said.
Cross-examined by John Shortt SC, for the woman, he said he did not have any reservations about giving lifts to someone he did not know anything about.
Asked if he liked the girl, he said he had “no opinion. I was asked to do something and I brought her to school”.
Pressed by counsel as to what he meant by no opinion, he said she was a “pleasant person and she was not very chatty and I was not very chatty. I brought her to school”.
The case continues before Mr Justice Tony O’Connor.
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