RTÉ journalist found guilty of sexually molesting woman in her sleep


A RTÉ journalist will be convicted next week of sexually assaulting a woman while she slept in his bed.

ícheál Ó Leidhin, 38, of Sunnyside, Malahide Road, Artane, Dublin, was convicted of sexual assault at his former home in south Dublin in the early hours of 13 May 2018.

Ó Leidhin, a native of Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, had denied the offence, but his solicitors at a hearing in the Central Criminal Court today said he now accepts the jury’s verdict.

Garda Niall Freyne told Prosecutor Michael Delaney SC that the applicant, who has a legal right to anonymity, was drinking with a friend in a Dublin pub when they met the accused, who knew her friend.

The group proceeded to another pub and the woman and Ó Leidhin kissed. At the end of the night, Ó Leidhin asked the woman to return to his flat in south Dublin and they took a taxi from there.

At the apartment, they kissed and Ó Leidhin engaged in consensual sexual foreplay activities. Ó Leidhin suggested they have penetrative sex, but the woman said no but left open the possibility that they could do so the next morning, Mr Delaney told the court.

In his report to Gardaí, Ó Leidhin claimed that he could not get an erection.

The woman then fell asleep and later woke up to find Ó Leidhin on her, feeling her breasts. She said she told him to stop and get off her. He stopped and said to her, “Sorry I’m horny”.

The court heard that she was angry with the man and told him that she clearly fell asleep.

The woman said she fell asleep again. Later that night he drove her home and over the following days she texted the defendant expressing her anger at what had happened.

He met her and they talked for an hour and “they agreed” that they disagreed about what had happened, Gda Freyne said. In April 2019, the woman went to Gardaí and filed a complaint of sexual assault.

The following July, he met with Gardaí and said that after falling asleep together, he woke up and started kissing the woman and laying on top of her. He said he tried to wake her up and when she woke up she was upset at what he was doing while she was still asleep.

He told Gardaí that he told her they were engaging in sexual foreplay and that he tried to wake the woman up so she could continue “joking around”.

Gda Freyne told the court Ó Leidhin had no other criminal convictions and was never noticed before or after the incident.

He agreed with Bernard Condon SC and defended that he was fully co-operative in the investigation and had a good work history as a journalist.

Mr Condon said his client has been suspended from his position at RTÉ and will struggle ever to work in his chosen field again. He submitted a series of references from longtime acquaintances, who described the accused as a supportive friend and described his shame and sadness at the events of the night.

Mr Condon said his client was repentant and accepted the jury’s verdict after giving the jury his understanding of what happened.

The woman read her own victim impact statement and said that while she wanted to maintain her anonymity, she did not want Ó Leidhin to remain anonymous.

She said the attack traumatized her and left her feeling lost in the world. She said she was sexually abused when she was most vulnerable.

She said the night of the attack was the last time she went to sleep and felt safe from an attack.

She said she kept repeating her attack and felt depressed and suicidal. She said she tried to kill herself by overdosing and ended up moving back in with her parents outside Dublin to deal with the trauma and stress.

She was unable to use public transport for a long time because the “touch of a stranger was unbearable”.

“My whole life and self-esteem was destroyed,” she said. She said she has since found trusting men extremely difficult and would completely freeze over any intimate sexual activity.

She said she found the trial incredibly stressful and being cross-examined for four days was unbearable.

Judge Karen O’Connor adjourned the sentencing to next Monday and placed the accused in custody on bail. RTÉ journalist found guilty of sexually molesting woman in her sleep

Fry Electronics Team

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