A SIXTY-six-year-old man broke down in tears after he was cleared by a jury of two counts of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in 2011.
The pensioner who cannot be named for legal reasons had been accused of sexually assaulting the 17-year-old on two occasions in January 2011 and April 2011. The accuser, who is now 19 years old, claimed that she was sexually assaulted on two occasions, the first time when she was cleaning the man’s house and the second time, she alleged, it occurred when he called to her house when her parents were away.
The teenager and the man - who lived alone - had entered a arrangement where she would clean his four bedroom house and it was alleged that she and a friend were repeatedly sexually assaulted when they were cleaning.
The man, who lives in a rural area of Mayo, pleaded not guilty to the charges put to him and in interviews with gardaí totally denied there was any inappropriate touching of the girls when they were cleaning. He told gardaí that he had a habit of touching people on the shoulder and he would give them a ‘fatherly hug’ but denied rubbing their breasts.
Ms Deirdre Browne, BL for the accused described the two women’s accounts as ludicrous and suggested that their story was a ‘drama between the two girls which went too far’. After over an hour of a half of deliberation, the jury of nine men and three women recorded a unanimous verdict of not guilty on both counts.
At last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Court, the young woman who made the accusations explained that she and the accused man lived approximately two miles from each other and she agreed to clean his house once a month for money.
Initially she went with friends from the village but later she went more regularly with a friend from Dublin who lived with her family. At the end of January 2011, she alleged she was cleaning the kitchen when the man came from behind her and grabbed her breasts. She said she never said anything but sat down at the kitchen table when the man started rubbing her leg.
She told him to leave her alone and the two girls were driven home by the man. She said this was the last time she went to his house.
The second alleged incident took place on April 3, 2011 when the man came to her home looking for a neighbour at 6pm when she was alone looking after her younger siblings. She said he edged into the house and put his arm around her back and left his hand on her breast. She told the court she asked him to stop but claimed he started to kiss her neck and tried to put his hand at the back of her trousers.
She said she then told him to ‘f**k off’ and he let go before telling her he could kidnap her and commented that she looked ‘broody’.
The young woman said she rang a neighbour to tell her what happened who advised her to tell her mother or she would. She said she rang her mother and then contacted the gardaí.
Under cross-examination from Ms Browne, she agreed with her description that the man was a ‘touchy feely’ and ‘tactile person’ who would put his arm around you because ‘it was his nature’. She denied the claim by Ms Browne that there was nothing sexual about the physical contact and that she and her friend had cast the accused as a ‘dirty pervert’.
In relation to the incident at her home, Ms Browne claimed her client went to her home to look for a neighbour and denied sexually assaulting her. She said the young woman was looking after her younger siblings and told her client that she had to ‘wash these little feckers and put them to bed’. She said the only physical contact was when he patted her on the back and told her she was a ‘great little girleen’. The young woman denied this version of events took place.
Her friend, who is also 19 years old, echoed the accusations of what what happened in the man’s kitchen and she told Ms Browne that they reported the incident because ‘it went too far’. She said she cleaned the house up to ten times and that on each occasion the defendant would rub their breasts and bums at least seven times.
She admitted that she went up to the house on her own after the incident.
The defendant did not give evidence during the trial but in interviews with the gardaí he told gardaí he might touch them on the lap out of ‘pure habit’ but denied it went any further. He said he could not understand why the allegations were made and wondered if he was being set up or if it could be a demand for money.