Victim does not regret taking case

 

The woman who was sexually assaulted by Danny Foley in Listowel, Co Kerry, said today she does not regret pressing charges.

At press conference this afternoon in Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse centre on  Denny Street, Tralee, Co Kerry, the woman described how she felt watching dozens of people shake hands and sympathise with Foley inside the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee last Wednesday prior to his sentencing. He was jailed for five years.

“I was very upset and hurt by this. I felt really low, I felt like crying . . . I felt that I was being told that I was in the wrong and I was not believed even though he had been found guilty and I knew he was the guilty person”.

The woman, who has not been identified, said it felt as if she “was on trial and I was the guilty person”. Reading out her victim impact statement in court last week, after watching so many people offer support to Foley, had been really difficult, she added.

“I never expected what happened in the court room and even worse the publicity that came after. . . . . I had come to court to tell the truth and I wanted to explain how this whole experience had affected me.”

She said the assault had undermined her confidence and she could now not be on her own. “I felt suicidal, I had nightmares and during the day I had constant thoughts and memories of what was done to me”.

“I know I will get stronger, but I will never forget it, it will always be there. But I am not going to leave it ruin the rest of my life.”

Asked whether she would consider leaving Listowel she replied: “When the case was over and I was getting hassle it had crossed my mind. But hopefully now I can stay in Listowel because it is my home town and I just hope people can not look at me any more and not judge me.”

She said she had hoped the court case last Wednesday “would be the end of a long and very bad experience and that I could try to get on with my life facing Christmas and a new year.”

She had been shocked and devastated at comments made by the then Castlegregory parish priest Fr Seán Sheehy on the radio.

Fr Sheehy, who is retired from an American diocese, was substituting for the parish priest of Castlegregory at the time and stood as a character witness for Foley at the sentencing. The priest had said Foley was always “respectful of women” and also criticised the sentence. This character reference was criticised by the judge. Yesterday Fr Sheehy stepped down from his work in the parish.

The woman thanked Bishop of Kerry Bill Murphy for his apology and support following Fr Sheehy’s comments.

She also had a message for the Foley family. “I would like to say to them, I didn’t want this to go so public and I know they must be going through an awful time at the moment, but all I did was tell the truth and I am not going to feel guilty about that and I am not going to feel ashamed.”

“I knew Danny for nine years. To me he was the person that everyone thought he was. I trusted him, I felt comfortable with him. For him to go and do that, I don’t think I will every feel comfortable or trust a man again.”

“I never hated Danny, I always considered him as a friend, but I am hurt. I will never forgive him for what he has done to me but I can never hate him.”

The woman said she was not sorry she had taken the case and encouraged any other victims of a similar offence to report it. She also said this would be the final time she spoke to the media and asked that her privacy be respected.

Foley (35), a nightclub bouncer from Meen, Listowel, was sentenced to seven years with the final two suspended by Judge Donagh. He was found guilty of sexually assaulting the woman who was discovered by a Garda patrol in a semi-conscious state and naked from the waist down alongside a skip in a car park early on June 15th, 2008.

Foley, who had been celebrating his 34th birthday on the night of the offence, had denied the charge. He told gardaí he had “found your wan” after he had gone to relieve himself near a skip at 3.50am. However CCTV footage showed him carrying her to the skip area. It also emerged he had met her earlier in a nightclub.