It was a normal Friday evening for me….well, the sticky hot sunshine was making life languorous and easy. A cool gin and tonic…some time to myself…some flirting on Twitter…what could be better?
(I know…lots of things….but sometimes a working girl has to take a break…)
And then, out of the blue, this appears in my timeline…
And I freak.
If you can’t be bothered to follow the link, that’s okay, I’ll summarise.
A married man rapes his 14 year old sister in law twice and sexually assaults her twice (probably at least….)
Years later, she reports it to police and the case goes to court.
He denies it.
He’s found guilty.
The victim – now a mum in her forties says it was hard to find words for the “contagious and insidious effect” that the abuse had had on every aspect of her life, or to describe the “pain, trauma, loss and sadness” that she continues to feel every day.
She added that the rape had “stolen her teenage years and her curiosity for life” and that all of a sudden things like school, sport and friends had become irrelevant to her.
“I just wanted to die because he caused me so much pain, anguish and turmoil. Part of me was stolen, killed and lost forever,” she said. “I will have to live with this invasion of my body all my life.”
“Part of me was stolen, killed and lost forever…”
That 14 year old had her innocence destroyed and lived with the horror for decades before her attacker was convicted.
Then having experienced the high of being believed, being vindicated, being able to lift her head and look her rapist in the eye, another man, Mr Justice Garret Sheehan, took it all away from her by suspending the rapist’s seven-year jail term on condition that he keeps the peace for a period of five years.
And Justice Sheehan’s reason?
It emerged that two of the rapist’s young sons have autism and a third child has “many medical health issues”.
And to quote RTE (the Irish national broadcaster) “Judge Sheehan ruled it was in the interest of society and of the man’s family that this family unit is ‘preserved and supported’”.
The judge continued by pointing out that the rapist’s actions were at the top end of the scale but somewhere along the line, a teacher of one of his children had been consulted and stated that the rapist/father’s imprisonment during the pre-sentencing period had caused the behaviour of one of his five children to deteriorate considerable.
I have no doubt that raising children with autism or other medical health issues is tough…really tough…I can’t comprehend how difficult it must be…but…
……the victim was raped when she was 14 and the rapist was 24.
She was a child too.
No-one came to her rescue. There was no-one around – parent, teacher, sister – that she felt she could confide in…or else surely he would have been arrested, charged and convicted all those years ago.
For years she carried the knowledge that this man had attacked her.
I’m just guessing, but I’ll bet that she had to suffer his brutality over a period of time….she probably tried to get out of family gatherings, baby-sitting, being anywhere near him, without success.
Her close relations would have told her to “stop being silly and get in the car” as they prepared to visit the rapist’s house; “make your brother-in-law a cup of tea” when he called at her home.
Children are precious – with or without disabilities – they all deserve to be protected and cherished and there are no hierarchies. No child is worth more than any other.
Protected and cherished.
By a rapist?
This case has left many people speechless.
And for those many, many victims of rape or sexual assault there’s a sinking feeling – whether their attack was reported or not – that no matter what happens, even if the accused is found guilty, their needs will always be secondary.
In this case, his children seem to be the pawns, picked up by a clever and determined defence team as a means to avoid the custodial sentence that he should serve.
How will that make them feel in the years to come when they are grown and learn of the case?
How will the mother’s family cope with the knowledge that one of their own married a rapist and another of their own is the victim and that to all intents and purposes the judge has decreed that they carry on as normal, because he has “self-rehabilitated”?.
Did he give himself a good talking-to? Did he attend a counsellor? Did he raise funds for victims of rape and sexual assault?
Did he convince himself that he wasn’t at fault?
And the possibility of other victims who might yet report has been glossed over.
And isn’t it convenient for the Irish bankrupt state that he has sorted himself out?
No expensive courses for him.
No costly jail sentence.
There’s no mention in the report of any monitoring by the probation services or equivalent.
No placing on a sex offenders’ register.
And no need to provide extra State support to those children of his…..
That, m’lud, is the crux of the matter.
Are you hanging your head in shame, Irish “justice”?