Man who started abusing girl after her First Holy Communion is jailed

Accused pleaded guilty to 33 counts of sexual assault which began when he was a teenager

The girl outlined in a victim impact statement, read out by a Garda at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, how a teenaged relative of her mother’s partner abused her

A 17-year-old girl has told how she was used like “a puppet for sexual gratification” by an older relative who abused her from shortly after she made her First Holy Communion until she turned 13.

The girl, who cannot be named to protect her identity, outlined in a victim impact statement at Cork Circuit Criminal Court how she was just eight years old when a teenage relative of her mother's partner began abusing her three or four times a week when she found herself alone with him.

“Let me remind you of the interests of an eight year old little girl. My favourite TV show was My Little Pony and I had my bedroom decorated in Hello Kitty from head to toe with the colour pink touching every corner of the room,” she said.

“I couldn’t do multiplication or division to save my life and I still had not lost all of my baby teeth. I think anyone with a functioning mind can agree that a child of this age and maturity level should not be exposed to actions of this nature.


“But I was, and without my own knowledge or consent, was sexually abused not long after I had made my First Holy Communion, joining an outrageous and overwhelming statistic of sexual abuse victims.”

Pleaded guilty

The girl’s victim impact statement was read out in court on Monday by Det Garda Brid Norris after the accused, a 21-year-old man, pleaded guilty to a total of 33 counts of sexual assault on the girl between December 2013 and October 2017 at three different locations in Cork.

In her victim impact statement, the teenager told how her abuser viewed her: “I am a voice, disguised in anonymity with no face to pair it with, but to one person, I was much more – to one person, I was a puppet for sexual gratification.”

“I was a happy go-lucky child that was manipulated and used, sacrificing my innocence and sacrificing my childhood,” she said, adding that the process of getting justice for years of abuse was “horrible but somehow therapeutic”.

Asserting that she now knew she had nothing to be ashamed of, she recalled how when she decided that she had suffered enough and told her family, her abuser’s family isolated her, resulting in her being made feel responsible for sundering the bonds between them all.

“An abuser who had ruined my life was being subconsciously defended over a 13 year old that had just endured years of trauma. I was left feeling let down by people that were supposed to protect me – I was left sad and alone,” she said.

“I had been made feel like I was the one that did something wrong, when I was meant to be the victim in all of this … I was left feeling like I was the one that was tearing my family apart and not the other way around.”


Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said the girl was right to point out she had done nothing wrong. And her abuser, with his guilty plea, had affirmed that publicly and she was vindicated in all the complaints she had made.

Her abuser, whom he ordered not to be named as it would identify the girl, was guilty of a terrible breach of trust, while the nature of the abuse, the age of the girl who was but a child, and the fact it continued for almost five years were all aggravating factors, he said.

Judge Ó Donnabháin sentenced the accused to four years in jail but suspended the final two years in light of the fact he had no previous convictions and had entered an early plea and spared his victim the distress of a trial.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times