A college lecturer has been jailed for three years for sexually assaulting two of his nieces at family gatherings and sleepovers in Limerick and Dublin.
John Hogan (59), of Ashdale Avenue, Terenure, Dublin, pleaded guilty to five counts of sexually assaulting his two nieces from when they were aged eight and ten, on dates between 1994 and 2001.
Hogan can be identified after Limerick Circuit Court heard his "extraordinary brave" nieces, Niamh Richardson (29), of Clonkeen, Lisnagry, Co Limerick, and Caitríona Hickey (37), of Econ, Murrow, Co Limerick, waived their right to anonymity.
They said they wanted Hogan to be identified, in order to protect other children from him, and hoped it would encourage others who have suffered any type of sexual abuse to come forward and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Hogan admitted targeting his young nieces at large family gatherings at their homes. He would often put them on his lap and fondle their private parts and grope them during sleepovers.
On one occasion he quickly hopped back into his own bed when he heard his unsuspecting wife coming towards a room and interrupt him abusing Ms Richardson who had been asleep on a mattress on the floor along with four other children, following a party at her home.
Ms Richardson told gardaí Hogan had left her in physical “pain” following a sexual assault in 2001. She told gardaí she would cry at night while baby-sitting Hogan’s children at his home in Dublin, because she knew she could not hide from him there.
When confronted by members of his two nieces families after they learned of the assaults in 2017 and 2018, Hogan admitted “having demons” and said he was “getting help”.
After this he was arrested. He initially did not answer any questions about the assaults, but later pleaded guilty in court.
The assaults by Hogan, who is the victims’ uncle through marriage, have completely “fractured” the family dynamic, the court heard.
In a victim impact statement Ms Hickey said she had been “an innocent, timid, shy child” who was “groomed and manipulated” by Hogan who had “laughed off or ignored” her pleas for him to “stop”.
“I was silent for so long, I didn’t know how to express myself or even know how to explain what was going on in my head, I felt ashamed and broken inside.”
Ms Hickey said she hoped exposing people like Hogan would help “create a more honest and open future” for others experiencing abuse, and for children in general “to know that silence has no place when they are afraid or uncomfortable”.
She said Hogan’s jail sentence would “not change nor erase the abuse”, but she was finally able to “stand up for the little girl in me and give her a voice”.
Ms Richardson told the court: “What happened to me as a child should never happen, and I started this legal journey to ensure that John Hogan doesn’t to do this to anyone else.
“When I was eight years old, I was sexually abused by someone who was meant to protect me, someone I was meant to be able to trust.”
The court heard Hogan had no convictions. His barrister said his conviction, and the publicity of the case, would “likely have consequences” for his future as a lecturer.
Judge Tom O’Donnell said Ms Hickey and Ms Richardson had “shown enormous bravery” in disclosing the assaults.“It was an enormous breach of trust, grooming took place and the assaults were both opportunistic and planned,” he said.
He remarked the four years it had taken for the case to come to court had “added further stress” on the victims “which the court believes is unacceptable”.
“I hope that today starts the healing process for you,” he added.
Hogan showed no emotion as his sentence was imposed, and he waved briefly at his wife who was sitting in the court, as he was led away by prison officers to begin his jail sentence.
He was jailed on Monday for three years with the final year suspended.