Judge convicted of sexually assaulting six males resigns from bench

Four of Gerard O’Brien’s victims were students when he worked at a secondary school in Dublin between 1991 and 1997

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed that Circuit Court Judge Gerard O’Brien, who was convicted of sexually assaulting six males, has resigned. She said the resignation was effective from January 5th.

“The resignation has been conveyed to the President in accordance with the requirements of section 6 (2) of the Courts (Establishment and Constitution) Act 1961,” a spokesman said.

“The Minister will be making no further comment on this matter prior to the court finalising the case by sentencing, which is adjourned to March 4th.”

One of O’Brien’s victims, who were aged between 17 and 24, had earlier called for his resignation. The offences occurred on dates between 1991 and 1997, when O’Brien worked as a teacher at a second-level school in Co Dublin. Four complainants were pupils or former pupils.


The trial heard O’Brien, now aged 59 and with an address in Thurles, Co Tipperary, was born without arms and with just one leg and needs assistance dressing and going to the toilet.

Five complainants told the trial they had stayed overnight in his residence to assist him, and woke to find him performing sexual acts on them. The sixth complainant said O’Brien had sexually assaulted him while he was bringing him to the toilet in a pub.

[ Judge convicted of sexually assaulting six males on dates in the 1990s ]

Following O’Brien’s conviction on December 22nd, Mr Justice Alexander Owens adjourned sentence to March 4th next when victim-impact statements are expected to be heard.

Immediately following the conviction, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, said these were “appalling cases of sexual assault” and she was seeking advice from the Attorney General about the options open to the Government and the Oireachtas concerning the matter.

Reiterating her aim of “zero tolerance” for all forms of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence here, the Minister said O’Brien’s conviction was “clear proof” that nobody is above the law or immune from prosecution for such crimes.

One of the survivors of the offences, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told The Irish Times on Friday he believed the judge should resign.

“Gerard O’Brien put the six of us through the arduous process of going to trial in order to achieve justice,” the survivor said. “He could have saved us that hardship.

“If Gerard O’Brien refuses to resign, he will drag both the political and legal systems through a similar legal quagmire. He should resign and save everyone from this unnecessary journey.”

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Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times