A Wicklow man who sexually abused his best friend after she fell asleep at his home has been sentenced to 15 months in prison.
In her declaration of sacrifice, the woman described how she had trusted the man and he had “not only robbed me of a friendship, but also of my dignity and my faith in other people”.
She said she never did anything to make him believe they were anything more than friends.
The 41-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect the victim’s identity, pleaded guilty in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sexually assaulting the woman at his home in Wicklow on November 20, 2020. He has no criminal record.
In sentencing the man on Monday, Judge Melanie Greally said the man’s actions constituted a very serious breach of trust and there was little doubt that significant damage had been done.
She paid tribute to the man for his early admission of guilt, his cooperation, his full and candid admission of wrongdoing and said his regret, shame and remorse were evident. She also took into account that he was now a registered sex offender.
She said she had been asked to serve a custodial sentence, but noted that alongside the aggravating factors and harm caused, she had to uphold the principles of rehabilitation and personal deterrence, as well as the principle of general deterrence
She was sentenced to 27 months in prison and suspended the last 12 months on probation. She ordered two years of probation supervision and participation in the Safer Lives program.
An investigating officer told prosecutors Jennifer Egan BL that the man and woman meet regularly at his home and she considers him one of her best friends.
On the night in question they had been at his house drinking together and she had fallen asleep on the floor while they were watching a movie.
She said she woke up to find the man’s hand in her underwear with his finger inside her vagina.
She said she didn’t know how long this had been going on and froze. She then left the house and there was a series of texts between the two, with the man saying he was “really sorry” and that it shouldn’t have happened.
The woman made a statement to Gardai and was taken to a sexual assault treatment unit for a check-up.
The defendant initially told Gardai he just touched her leg and butt and denied touching her vagina. He told Gardai he was ashamed and didn’t know what he was doing.
The woman told the court she was a bubbly and outgoing person, but her confidence and perception of people dropped after the offense and she became isolated and depressed. “I just want to feel safe in my own bubble,” she said
She said she hits out at those around her because she can’t process her feelings. “What you have done to my confidence and dignity is soul crushing,” she told the man.
She said she is now proud of herself for having had the courage to speak out.
Edmund Sweetman BL, who defended himself, submitted several testimonies in court from family members and the man’s employer, who described him as a warm, reliable and trustworthy person.
He said the man had a strong work history but had to switch roles due to his insult.
He said it was a “sordid and tragic offense” and a breach of trust that caused great harm to the woman and himself. He said the man was also at the loss of a friendship he valued, betrayed and destroyed. He deeply regrets the act.
He asked the court to consider his cooperation, his early confession of guilt and his remorse.
Mr Sweetman said this was a moment of impetuous and wrongful conduct which caused great harm to his own life and that of the woman, but asked the court to consider a non-custodial sentence in the particular circumstances.
https://www.independent.ie/regionals/wicklow/news/courts/wicklow-man-who-sexually-assaulted-his-best-friend-while-she-slept-is-jailed-for-15-months-41520318.html Wicklow man who sexually abused his best friend while she slept is jailed for 15 months