The case began at Naas Circuit Court yesterday and continued today.
The mother of a woman who alleges she was the victim of numerous sexual assaults by her father has said that the defendant showered their daughter, the alleged victim with expensive gifts, which made her uncomfortable.
The man, who is charged with 29 counts of sexual assault on his daughter, most of which date back to a period of a number of years more than a decade ago, denies all of the allegations and has pleaded not guilty at Naas Circuit Court.
The trial, in its second day today, Wednesday, April 18, heard evidence from the defendant’s former partner and the mother of his children, one of whom is the alleged victim. The defendant cannot be identified to protect the identity of his daughter.
All but one of the 29 allegations relate to a period when the alleged victim was a young teenager at the time and occurred in a house in county Kildare that the family had just bought and moved into. The defendant and the complainant’s mother had been a relationship since they were both quite young. It was, all of the witnesses and the defendant agree, a tempestuous one, and ended some years ago.
Yesterday, Tuesday, April 17, the jury heard allegations from the complainant that the defendant would pull her pajamas down while she slept and that she would allegedly wake to find that he was penetrating her vagina with his fingers or his tongue, or fondling her breasts. The jury of three men and six women heard that defendant’s former partner first heard of the allegations from the school she was attending after she had confided in a friend.
The alleged victim’s mother said that within the family, the defendant had “absolutely” treated his daughter differently, buying her expensive gifts and taking her away on trips. She said that she was very uncomfortable about this.
She added that the defendant regularly took the complainant’s side over hers. She also recounted an occasion where she saw the two of them lying on a garden bench in the garden of their house, spooning. She said she was disturbed by this, given that her daughter was 14 at the time, and she expressed her discomfort to him about this.
Both the complainant and her mother gave evidence today that theirs was not an easy relationship. The young woman admitted that she was horrible to her mother. Her mother told the jury she believed they were effectively in competition with each other.
After the matter was brought to the attention of the school and from there to the family, the HSE got involved with the family and over time, the couple initiated a separation and the defendant moved away from the family home.
Evidence was heard that the alleged victim and her father, the defendant, were in sporadic contact with each other in more recent years, especially after she had continued her education in Dublin. Her mother told the court that she was not initially aware of this contact, and was angry with the defendant when she discovered it, having been through so much when the issue first arose some years earlier.
One of the 29 charges against the man relate to an alleged incident in February 2013 when the man, who by then was living in Dublin, was visited by his daughter, the alleged victim. She gave evidence yesterday that a further sexual assault occurred in his apartment after he had given her some tea and she fell asleep.
Later that same year, she made a complaint and a statement to Gardai and the defendant was arrested and questioned by them.
In evidence to the jury this afternoon, the defendant outlined how he had met and began a romantic relationship with the alleged victim’s mother. In answer to questions from defence counsel Conor Devally, he outlined his meteoric rise in his profession over the course of the late 1990’s and up to the present time, to a point where he was, professionally, extremely successful.
He indicated to the jury that his focus at the time was on escaping his humble beginnings. “I did not come from money and I wanted to provide for my family,” he said. He said that 14 hour days and spending more than 100 days a year travelling abroad for business were typical in his working life, and admitted that, with the benefit of hindsight, he was responsible for much of the tumultuous nature of the relationship with the complainant’s mother.
He accepted that with his long hours, and his insistence on tidiness in the house, that “understandably the relationship suffered. “I should have addressed that at the time, and I didn’t,” he admitted. This matched evidence from his former partner who told the jury that “depending on his moods”, she would frequently prefer to sleep on the couch or in their children’s bedrooms.
The defendant denied that he had treated the alleged victim differently to his other children, and he also denied, when it was put to him, that any of the alleged sexual assaults took place. When he became aware of the allegation from the school authorities, he “absolutely didn’t see it coming,” but concluded immediately that his daughter had issues.
The case continues tomorrow morning.