COURTS: Woman's life "has been ruined" following rape and sexual assault by stepfather in Kildare

Sexual assaults started at the age of 12

Leader reporter

Reporter:

Leader reporter

Email:

editor@leinsterleader.ie

COURTS: Woman's life "has been ruined" following rape and sexual assault by stepfather in Kildare

File photo

A young woman has described how her life has been ruined by her stepfather, who sexually assaulted and raped her for over a seven-year period from when she was a child.

In a lengthy victim impact statement read out in Central Criminal Court today, Monday February 21, the 24-year-old woman said she would never live a normal life due to the abuse she suffered “from a man who was meant to love and protect me as a daughter.”

The court heard the 44-year-old Kildare man, who can't be named for legal reasons, met the girl's mother when she was a baby, and started sexually assaulting the girl when she was aged 12. He started raping her regularly when she was 15.

The man was found guilty by a jury last month of 17 counts of sexually assaulting his stepdaughter between 2004 and 2007 and 16 counts of raping her between 2008 and 2011. Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy will sentence him on March 6.

During his trial in January, the man maintained that his stepdaughter had fabricated the allegations against him because he would not let her boyfriend into the house. He does not accept the guilty verdicts of the jury, the court heard.

The garda in charge of the case read out the woman's victim impact statement, in which she said her stepfather had stolen her childhood.

“When other kids my age were out playing with their friends, I was being abused behind closed doors and that's something that will never leave me,” she said.

She said that six years after coming forward about the abuse, she is still “constantly living a nightmare”. She said she suffers from severe depression, anxiety and panic attacks. She said she can't handle enclosed spaces and often retreats to her bedroom and self-harms.

The woman said she had dreamed of becoming a psychologist, but her severe depression had left her unable to pursue a career or form lasting relationships.

“I will never live a normal life,” she said. “I've gone through life with a permanent mask on, hiding how I feel... I will never recover fully from this. And for that, I will never forgive him.”

The garda told Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, that the man married the girl's mother a few years after meeting her and they had more children together.

The man started sexually assaulting his stepdaughter in 2004, when she was just 12 years old, and he started regularly raping her during her Junior Certificate year.

The court heard he first raped her on the landing of their home and then mostly raped her in her bedroom when her mother was out walking. On one occasion he “froze” when he thought his wife had returned home, before continuing to rape her. On another occasion he made his stepdaughter watch pornography while abusing her.

The victim told the trial that she tried to stop him from attacking her by pushing him away, and that she cried throughout the rapes. She often put a pillow over her own head to cover her face during the attacks.

“She was afraid if she reported the incidents it would break up the family,” Mr Burns said. “The accused had also threatened to kill himself if she reported him to gardaí.”

At the age of 19, the young woman “couldn't take it anymore” and told her mother about the abuse. She then reported the man to gardaí.

The man has two previous convictions for assault in 2006 and larceny in 1992. He worked for a period as a builder.

Roderick O'Hanlon SC, defending, said the mitigating factors of a guilty plea did not arise in this case. But he said the placing of the man's name on the sexual offender register would have an impact on his future.