Woman raped by foster father says she won’t let abuse define her

Co Wicklow man (56) pleads guilty to 14 sample charges

A woman who said she was raped a thousand times by her foster father from the age of 11 has said that she stands before him now a survivor and is determined not to let the abuse define her.

The 24-year-old woman’s victim impact statement was read into the record at the initial sentencing hearing of her 56-year-old foster father.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott remanded the man in custody and adjourned the case for finalisation on Friday.

The Co Wicklow man pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to 14 charges of rape, two charges of oral rape and one charge of sexual assault on dates between February 2009 and December 2015. He has no previous convictions.

Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting said the pleas were acceptable to the State on the basis that they were sample charges. She said the woman told gardaí that from the age of 11-18 years old, she was raped between four and five times per week by the man.

Ms Rowland said even if the man had raped the girl once a week that would equate to 300 incidences, and if it were the case that he raped her as often as five times a week that would be equal to more than 1,000 incidences of rape.

Counsel said the Director of Public Prosecution has directed that the case falls into the “exceptional category” for such offending, given the extreme vulnerability of the victim, the abuse of trust involved, the frequency of offending and the severe and long-lasting impact the rape had on the woman.

She said on that basis, the DPP suggests the case merited a headline sentence of between 15 years and life imprisonment.

Text conversation

The court heard that following an initial abuse of the girl while in the sittingroom of the family home, the man would regularly come into her bedroom at night and rape her.

The other members of the family, including his wife, were often in the house sleeping at the time.

The woman reported the abuse to gardaí in 2019 following a text conversation with the man when he asked her if they “could go again?” At that point he had not raped her for a number of years but she was in the house and he had been drinking so she was worried he would come into her room.

She decided that she had to disclose the abuse, and she told her younger siblings, her boyfriend at the time and then later the Garda.

The man was arrested in December 2019. He made no comment during interview. His wife later made a statement to gardaí in which she said he admitted to her that he had raped their foster daughter.

‘A survivor’

The victim impact statement said the woman was still uncovering the ways the abuse has affected her life and said she had been hurt “in a way that no human should”. She described feeling “trapped, helpless and frightened” and said she was too scared to report the abuse because of what may happen her younger brother and sister, who were also living in the foster home.

“I stand in front of you as a survivor,” the woman said, and she had been surviving for 15 years, “sometimes only existing”.

“Today is when I start to live. I am determined that I will not let this define me,” the woman concluded.

Ronan Munro SC, defending, said his client was “appropriately ashamed” of what he had done. He has started attended counselling and “demonstrates that he is willing to engage to discuss these matters”.

Counsel said his client’s working life and marriage were over. He was living as a recluse as he was ashamed to be seen locally and was drinking about four pints a night to help him to go to sleep.

Mr Munro said there were concerns over his client’s mental health and asked the court to take into account that although he made no admissions to gardaí, he pleaded guilty and spared his foster daughter the ordeal of a trial.