Sex Offence Sentencing



The lenience with which sexual predators and rapists are treated by Irish judges always astounds me. The most recent was this week, in July 2012, where a six year sentence was handed down with five and a half years inexplicably suspended by Judge Hogan. There are more judgements to see here. I find this offensive, and I know that this system of ‘justice’ is precisely what has, and what will continue to deter women from reporting crimes against them.

Yet again I find myself incredulous that a man who viciously attacked a young woman is being treated with lenience and is described as being “has been hitherto of good character, is well regarded and is unlikely to reoffend” . All first offenders are “hitherto of good character” are they not? Many abusers are perceived as being of good character, which is part of how they avoid detection. And as for the unlikely to reoffend -that is neither certain nor relevant. He HAS offended. If a crime appears to be an anomoly does that make it less of a crime? It seems so.

Perhaps things have changed since I qualified, and “good character” has become redefined in psychological literature. But then I am an avid reader, and I haven’t come across any studies that show deviant and violent sexual behaviour to have been redefined as normal , or indeed as “good”.

But then Judge Hogan is a learned judge. So I must be wrong to feel I don’t trust the Irish legal system. Clients of mine who have been terrorised , assaulted, raped, and hospitalised by men of hitherto good character must be wrong to be scared that the process of reporting and seeking justice may prove too much of an extra trauma for them to bear. I am appalled that yet again, we are shown that this fear has very real foundation.

Victims of sexual violence are not guaranteed justice.

Not here.

Regards, Sally O’Reilly

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