Rape Support Group Condemns Judge’s Comments in Alleged Assault Case
The Journal.ie 19 May 2011
THE RAPE CRISIS Network has condemned the comments of a Cork judge who this week criticised an alleged assault victim for failing to report the incident despite being involved in a profession that encourages quick reporting.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin was presiding at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in the case of Fr Dan Duane, a retired priest who was accused of kissing and groping a teenage girl when she visited him to discuss a family problem.
Directing a jury to find Fr Duane not guilty, the judge remarked at how the woman making the claim worked in a profession which encouraged victims to report such incidents quickly – while she herself had waited almost 30 years to report it.
The woman had said that she had only revealed the incident to a friend a few months later, and had not spoken about it for years afterward.
Those remarks were criticised by the Rape Crisis Network’s legal director Caroline Counihan, who told the Irish Examiner her association was gravely concerned about the possibility that a person’s profession could be seen “as grounds for questioning her actions”.
“Every survivor of sexual violence has a unique set of circumstances and choices when considering reporting the crimes,” Counihan told Claire O’Sullivan. “The Supreme Court in 2006 recognised that it was ‘no longer necessary to establish reasons for the delay’.
“Would some of the approximately 170 staff and volunteers who work in the rape crisis sector in Ireland – as but one example – feel less able to pursue a case in our courts, or report in the first place, should they be subjected to sexual violence or report past abuse?”
The comments coincide with a political storm in the UK where the current justice secretary and former chancellor Kenneth Clarke is under pressure to quit over remarks he made on the subject of rape.
Discussing the sentences for rape offences, Clarke suggested that “date rape” – usually involving the use of a drug to assist in the sexual attack of the victim – was a lesser crime that other “serious rape” crimes.
Clarke told BBC Radio 5 Live that people convicted of “serious rape” crimes would not be released as quickly as those found guilty of “date rapes” – prompting fury among opposition leaders.
Clarke has clarified his remark, saying that “all rape is serious”, and has resisted calls to step down.