Woman reveals lifelong impact of child sex abuse by chimney sweep – Connacht Tribune – Galway City Tribune:

The terror instilled in a ten-year-old child by a grown man almost thirty years ago – whom he could violently rape and kill at any moment – can still be triggered by the smell, sound or sight of childhood, instantly transforming from a strong, successful woman into a terrified little girl again.

Chimney sweep and odd job Dermot O’Hara had been a familiar figure on the streets of Ballinasloe for decades. Nobody knew that he had already been convicted of sexual assault in 1982. He was untouchable, until four years ago when a young woman walked into Ballinasloe Garda station and was believed when she told him told what he had done to her. a kid.

“Four years ago I went to Garda station expecting not to be believed, but I received a warm and sincere response,” the 37-year-old said during the hearing on O’Hara’s sentence at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last week. urging all victims of abuse to come forward and file a complaint with Gardaí.

“Since speaking out about the abuse, I have been deeply disappointed by Tusla’s response. I truly believed he was a danger to the community and was extremely disappointed by their inaction. However, I am eternally grateful for the dedication and care I received from the Garda investigation team.Four years ago I walked into Garda train station expecting not to be believed and received a warm and heartfelt response,” the woman said, reading her own victim impact statement from the court filing.

O’Hara, now 70, with an address in Poolboy, Ballinasloe, initially denied 36 charges of sexually assaulting the girl when she was aged between nine and 13, on various dates between 1995 and 1998.

He was due to stand trial last May, but pleaded guilty to 17 of the counts moments before a jury was called.

Detective Aiden Heneghan testified last week that the woman filed a January 2, 2019 complaint to Sergeant Orla Keenan that O’Hara sexually assaulted her over a four-year period in the 1990s.

She said that from the age of nine she used to babysit O’Hara and his wife who worked outside the home at their then address in Brackernagh, Ballinasloe.

O’Hara always came home after his wife left for work.

He often took the girl in his car to buy her candy, take her to Supermac or to the playground. He made her feel like it was their secret.

Back home, O’Hara made the child watch hardcore pornographic videos, where the victims were violently raped, tortured and sometimes killed.

“He would take pleasure in extreme sexual violence, and she feared he was having a hold on her by making her watch these videos,” Det. said Heneghan.

The grooming and coercion escalated one night as the girl slept in the house. O’Hara came into the bedroom, climbed on top of her and groped her all over.

She started to struggle to get away from him and he laughed and said to her, “Did you think I was going to rape you?

Det. Heneghan said that between 1995 and 1998 a pattern emerged of O’Hara grabbing the girl and groping her breasts and buttocks outside of her clothes at every opportunity.

O’Hara denied all the allegations when he was arrested and questioned in September 2019. He continues to deny making him watch explicit pornographic videos, the court heard.

The detective confirmed that O’Hara had nine previous convictions, including one for indecent assault which was recorded at Eyrecourt District Court in January 1982, for which he served six months in prison.

There were others for using instruments in the commission of burglaries, assaulting a Garda, robberies, drunk driving and reckless driving.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said her life had been “completely altered by the actions of this man”.

“The grooming process I was subjected to was intended to isolate me and then instill fear of violent sexual assault. Because of this grooming and sexual assault, I lived with an intense fear of particular situations. Logically, I know these fears are irrational, but they’re so ingrained that I can’t chase them away as they arise.

“I find it very difficult to be alone in a house, especially at night. To this day, I check under beds, in wardrobes, and behind curtains to make sure no attackers are waiting for me before I can sleep. I continue to have an intense fear of the dark. I can’t walk alone in a wooded area, day or night. I’m afraid of being raped in a public bathroom, because of a rape scene he forced me to watch when I was little.

“As a young adult, I had several male bosses. I was convinced that every boss and other men in positions of power would inevitably sexually assault me. follow me and attack me.

“I believed my body was for the pleasure of older men and I had no say in that. I’ve often been surprised that an encounter with an older man in a position of power doesn’t end in a sexual assault.

“In my twenties, I was in a very abusive relationship. In this relationship, the pattern I had learned to keep secrets meant that I went for four years without anyone knowing about the intense abuse I was going through. This person often threatened to rape me and I considered that an acceptable part of what I deserved.

“I am a strong, successful adult who can turn into a scared little girl with any smell, sound or sight that reminds me of what he did.

“I’m in my late thirties and only now, with lots of therapy and a very supportive group of family and friends, can I maintain healthy relationships without freezing in fear or becoming submissive after being sets off.

“It’s hard to describe how scared I am to be in his presence today. He has a twisted mind and he takes great pleasure in being feared by the vulnerable. He took such pleasure in creating the fear.

“I will carry the weight of what he has done with me for the rest of my life. I will need to continue to seek therapy and other support in the future. However, regardless of the outcome of this case, I am confident that I was believed and that I no longer have to cover up someone else’s wrongdoing.

“The court cannot underestimate the message of hope that this case can give to survivors of abuse. I intend to live the rest of my life as a very proud survivor,” she concluded.

Bernard Madden SC, defending, issued an apology on O’Hara’s behalf. He said his client pleaded guilty 18 months after he was initially charged, sparing the woman from giving evidence at trial.

Referring to the findings of a probation report, the attorney said that while O’Hara was at medium risk of reoffending, his only prior conviction for a similar offense was 40 years ago.

Judge Brian O’Callaghan was quick to point out that the 1982 indecent assault conviction was recorded just twelve years before these offenses were committed.

He noted O’Hara’s apology, plea and age as major mitigating factors before proceeding to impose two concurrent primary sentences of three years for each of the first two sexual assaults when the girl was nine. He reduced those sentences from three years to two years each after taking into account mitigation.

The judge said that given the potential for rehabilitation, he would suspend the last six months of each two-year sentence, giving a net total of 18 months to be served in prison.

The six months were suspended on the condition that O’Hara agree to maintain public order and good behavior for two years upon his release from prison, not to consume alcohol and to engage with the probation service for 18 months after his release from prison. .

The remaining 15 counts in court have been considered, while the state has filed a dismissal on the 19 outstanding counts.

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