WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT CONTAINED: A woman only realised she had sexually abused a young child when she undertook a child protection course.
The woman appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday facing two charges of sexual abuse against the girl in the mid 2000s.
The court heard how the two incidents took place while the child, who was 10 or 11 years old, was in the care of the accused woman.
In the first incident the woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim,
was invited over to the woman’s home.
After watching television, the accused woman kissed the child, rubbed her breast and then rubbed her own breasts.
The little girl told her mother what had happened but when approached by the child’s mother, the accused woman said she had only been playing with her.
On the second occasion, the girl’s father had been forced to leave his daughter with the woman as his wife had been in a car crash and he had no babysitter.
This time the child was ordered to take a bath and the woman rubbed the child’s vaginal area with a flannel for five minutes.
The woman told the court that she only appreciated the seriousness of the incident when she undertook a child protection course and disclosed the abuse.
The incidents were then followed-up on by support services and the Gardai.
A victim impact statement on the child revealed how the victim is a very changed girl as a result of the attacks.
She stays at home a lot and gets upset very easily.
She is still unable to develop relationships with boys and remembers the abuse when she takes a bath or shower.
The court also heard how the accused woman also suffered prolonged sexual abuse and became pregnant at the age of 12 before miscarrying.
She was abused sexually, emotionally and physically by siblings, her mother’s partners and people who came into her house.
A doctor who treated her said she had suffered “the most grave and prolonged case of sexual abuse that I have come across.”
Judge John Aylmer said he put the offences on mid-range of seriousness but at the lower end of mid-range.
He said he did not want to overlook the impact on the victim so he was imposing a custodial sentence but suspended it in light of mitigating factors including the guilty plea that saved victim from cross examination.
He sentenced the woman to 18 months in jail for each of the two offences to run concurrently but suspended them for two years
He also ordered that she have no unsupervised contact with any person under 18 years of age or any vulnerable adult.
She was also ordered to engage in a treatment programme for sexual offenders and answer all questions truthfully in relation to her offending while remaining on the sexual offenders register for a statutory five years.