Sex abuse allegations against John Brown, Dana's brother, may never have surfaced if the former Irish presidential candidate had not referred to them in two television interviews, a court heard.
The Eurovision song contest winner spoke about "vile and malicious lies" going around about her family during her 2011 election campaign – comments which Harrow Crown Court heard this morning led to one of the alleged victims going public.
Mr Brown (60), is facing five counts of indecent assault against two girls then under the ages of 13 and 16 at various times and locations in the 1970s.
Today Greg Harkin, the Irish Independent’s northwest regional correspondent who broke the story in October 2011, told of how he spoke to the first victim, now 47, by phone 10 days earlier about the abuse.
He then approached Dana and her brother Gerald about the allegations before any story was published but both refused to comment, the court heard.
That week, during an election debate and another television interview, Dana cryptically referred to the allegations, insisting they were “vile and malicious lies”.
Giving evidence, Mr Harkin said: “The whole nation thought it was bizarre. The big story the next day was, ‘What was all that about?’ ”
He said that when he first spoke to the alleged victim she was a “reluctant witness” and was unsure about going public.
But that changed when Dana made the comments in television interviews on TV3 and RTÉ days later.
Mr Harkin said: “After the TV3 interview went out she [the alleged victim] was very angry. That article [revealing the abuse allegations] might never have appeared if it weren’t for the television interview.
“She was angry, she wanted to clear her name. I think at that point she felt she had been made out to be a liar by Dana on television so she felt she had to respond.”
The court later heard evidence from a younger sister of the second alleged victim, now 53, who claims Brown touched her inappropriately on two occasions at an address in Northern Ireland and at her home in Essex.
The alleged victim had earlier told the trial Brown groped her as she lay in bed next to her younger sister, who took the stand this afternoon.
Recalling the night in question, when the victim was aged 10 or 11, the sister said: “John was in the bedroom, I think we were already in bed.
“I just remember lying down and he was talking to…[her sister]. He was wearing underpants. He stayed there for a little while and then we said we wanted to go to sleep and he went out of the room.
“[Later] I woke up with someone grabbing down my side, ‘swishing’ in bed and pinching me. I couldn’t see things clearly but my sister was swishing in bed and my initial thought was he [Brown] was kissing her. He was on top of her.
“I just said ‘What are you doing John? Get out’. I just felt uncomfortable and I didn’t want him to be there.”
Brown, who denies the charges, is alleged to have then left the room after a light came on in the hallway or bathroom.
The case continues.