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Doctor Sued Over Diagnosis Of Sex Abuse

Sunday Times (London), June 6, 2004 by Dearbhail McDonald

Moira Woods, the doctor who pioneered the uncovering of child sex abuse in Ireland, is being sued by a young Dublin woman who claims that she made false allegations of sexual abuse against her father.

Cherie Eustace, now 23, was referred in 1986 by a family doctor to the sexual assault treatment unit at the Rotunda hospital, Dublin. Woods, then its director, concluded that the then five-year-old had been sexually assaulted by her father, Edward Hernon.

Eustace, who suffers from depression and has received counselling since she was 15, was estranged from her father following the accusations, but has since been reunited with him. She claims that her relationship with him was "destroyed " and that with her mother "greatly affected" by Woods. Her mother Bernadette Eustace is also suing Woods and the state for compensation.

In separate legal proceedings, Woods, the Eastern Health Board and the state are being sued by Hernon, chairman of Vocal Ireland, a support group for parents falsely accused of abusing their children.

Two years ago Woods was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Irish Medical Council.

The council, the governing body for doctors, found her guilty of breaching best diagnostic practice in respect of 13 of a total of 55 allegations relating to five children from three families. Woods, who strongly denied the charges and will defend the new actions vigorously, was regarded as the leading Irish expert in child sexual abuse and helped to draft guidelines adopted by the Department of Health in 1987.

A veteran social campaigner and mother of eight -- including two sons with Cathal Goulding, a former chief of staff of the IRA -- Woods was credited with alerting the Irish public to the prevalence of child sexual abuse and provided
evidence for several health board investigations into alleged abuse.

After the Irish Medical Council's finding against her, a group of doctors wrote to the IMC expressing concern at how the investigation had been conducted.