Gardai investigate abuse complaints against sports coach in Waterford

Complainants believe other boys were abused and urge them to contact gardai

Gardaí in Waterford have begun an investigation after receiving complaints from two men that they were abused by a sports coach in the city while in their teens in the 1980s.

The two men, now in their 40s, say they were among a group of boys abused by the sports coach, who is now in his 60s, on a regular basis over a number of years.

One of the men has made a detailed statement to gardaí outlining the abuse while the second is due to make a detailed statement shortly. Both allege that the abuse began when they were 14 and continued until they were 17 and 16, and that it happened on a near-weekly basis.

They have both alleged that they were first abused at the man's home in Waterford city but that he also abused them and others at various locations around Munster while on sports trips.


They have also alleged that there were two other boys abused with them, and they believe that the man may have abused up to 30 boys over a period in the 1980s and 1990s.

According to the men, the abuse began in the coach’s home and involved them being tied up before being forced to participate in sex acts with him.

Given beer and cash
Afterwards, they were given beer and cash, while on some occasions he would take them on trips to nearby towns and buy them chips and give them cash after abusing them.

According to one of the men, the abuse occurred virtually once a week for a period of four years and involved being forced to engage in masturbation and oral sex while tied with restraints.

These assaults mainly took place at his home or “in his car and usually in forested areas, lay-bys or secluded areas that were out of sight”, the man said. “He used to punish us too for doing or not doing something. I remember as a 15-year-old being tied to a tree in a forest on a winter’s night and left there for some time.”

Impact of abuse
The second man spoke about the impact of the abuse on him in his teenage years and how it wasn't until he reached adulthood that he fully realised how he had been exploited.

“You go through years wondering maybe you were to blame, thinking you did it of your own free will, but as you grow older, you realise you were manipulated by a calculating individual.

“We were only 14 and you hadn’t a clue. We were scared in case he physically assaulted us and he befriended us by giving us beer and money,” he said.

“He had Polaroid photos of our initial abuse and he would remind us that he still had them while refusing to destroy them. It was a very confusing time.

“The initial abuse was laughed off as a kind of a joke but when you think about it, you realise that we were all played, we were totally manipulated and that’s when you get angry.”

Both complainants said they buried the memories for over 20 years but, upon becoming parents themselves, became concerned that the coach might still be abusing other young boys.

And when they discovered that the man was still involved in a sports club, they resolved to contact gardaí, with one of the men making a formal complaint to gardaí in Waterford.

“The main thing we wanted to do initially was just shut down his abusive operation so that nobody else is abused and that we looked upon that result being a major success.

“However, after long thought, we want to see him prosecuted for what he did to us,” said the man.

Gardaí have searched the coach’s home and seized material but have yet to formally arrest him for questioning about the alleged abuse.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times