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One in Four calls for an urgent statement by the Minister for Education & Science with regard to High Court order for costs against victim of sexual abuse

One in Four, the national charity which supports people who have experienced sexual violence, today called on the Minster for Education & Science to indicate that she will not enforce an order for costs made against a victim of sexual abuse in the High Court today.

In the case costs estimated to be in the region of €500,000 were awarded to the Department of Education and Science against Louise O’Keefe who was sexually assaulted in 1973 by the then principal of her national school, Leo Hickey. Hickey was originally charged with 386 charges of assault and jailed in 1998 after pleading guilty to 21 sample offences involving girls aged seven, eight and nine.  The award of costs was made against Ms. O’Keefe because the Judge ruled that the Department of Education and Science had no responsibility in the case as they were not the employers of the teacher.

Speaking today, Colm O'Gorman, Director of One in Four said, “This ruling demonstrates how the State has abdicated and dodged responsibility for child protection and the management of the Irish education system. The fact that the Department sought, not to fill the loophole whereby the state has no responsibility in law in such cases, but aggressively seek costs indicates that the Minister and her Departments prioritises the avoidance of liability rather than the acceptance of responsibility for the welfare of children in the context of education”.

This is a situation which must be urgently addressed but the immediate priority must be to ensure that this victim of sexual abuse is not further victimised by the State.

 
 

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