Principal accused of raping girl was not regularly late for work, says school secretary

Young woman suing principal over allegations says they both arrived at school 10 or 15 minutes late, sometimes four times a week, when assaults were occurring

The secretary to a school principal alleged to have raped and sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in his car during journeys to school has told the High Court he was not regularly late for work.

The now young woman who is suing the principal over the allegations has claimed that both she and he arrived 10 or 15 minutes late to school, sometimes up to four times a week, when the assaults were occurring.

It is alleged they happened in his car during the 2009/2010 academic year on what was normally a 20-25 minute drive and that he would go down secluded side roads and stop the car to assault her. He would then drop her at the gate of her school at 9.10am or 9.15am before driving a short distance away to his school, which did not start lessons until 9.20am, it is alleged.

The principal repeatedly told the court on Tuesday and Wednesday that nothing ever happened on the journeys to school. The court heard the Director of Public Prosecutions decided in 2012 there should be no prosecution, and the woman then brought civil proceedings.


Giving evidence on Wednesday, the full-time school secretary at the time told the court the principal usually arrived “behind me at five to nine or nine o’clock”.

She said it was a very busy school with hundreds of pupils and there were always teachers and parents waiting to see the principal the minute he arrived.

Asked by the principal’s barrister, Conall MacCarthy BL, about suggestions by the woman that during 2009/10 he was late two to three days a week initially and later up to four times a week, the secretary said she had no recollection of that.

Asked about his appearance when he arrived in school, she said he was always dressed in a suit, or jacket and tie. “He always came in immaculate, still does.”

Cross-examined by John Shortt SC, for the woman, the secretary said she had previously told the principal she would be a witness for him in this case and she was asked by him to do so on Monday last. She had not discussed detail of the case with him because she knew it already, she said.

Put to her that she had “recited facts as if it were yesterday” and that she could not have such a recollection about events in 2009/10, she said she disagreed. She said she “worked there” in what was a very busy school.

A teacher in the school at the time who has since become its deputy principal told the court she remembered the principal’s office before school started was very busy at that time. If you wanted to be sure to see him about a matter, you had to be there early, she said.

Earlier, under continuing cross-examination, it was put to the principal by Mr Shortt that he “immediately went into denial” on the day the girl’s father asked him to go to a meeting about “an incident” that happened on the journey to school. “You did not engage in any conversation, you just said no incident happened,” counsel said.

He replied: “I said no incident happened in my car or outside my car or on the way to [identified town where school is located] or with any other person.”

He said that in early 2011, around the time he first learned of the allegations, he sold the car he had used for the journeys to school because the heating system in it had broken.

He disagreed with counsel’s suggestion that the reason he sold it was “to dispose of some of the evidence with regard to where some of these [alleged] horrendous incidents took place”.

He also said that when he was arrested and interviewed by gardaí, he vehemently denied the allegations.

Asked what explanation he could give for why the woman was making her claims, he said he could “not give an explanation, but I know I did not do anything to [her]”.

Put to him that he groomed a vulnerable young teenager, repeatedly sexually assaulted her, orally raped her and then raped her, between September 2009 and May 2010, he said he was at work every single day at 8.55am or 9am. “I could not have done it, I did not do it, I deny I did anything to [her]”.

Evidence in the case has ended and Mr Justice Tony O’Connor said he will hear submissions from the parties later this month.

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