Friday, March 03, 2023

High Court reporters

A man is asking the High Court to quash a provisional finding by Tusla that allegations of historic child sexual abuse made against him by his niece are “founded”.

The court should also make an order restraining Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, from conducting a further inquiry into the alleged events dating back to the period of 1989 to 1994, when the woman was under the age of 10, he says.

He says the allegations against him are untrue.

The man, who cannot be named due to a court order, claims Tusla’s investigation was “characterised by a predisposition to start from a premise that the complainant is to be believed”, to his detriment. A flawed outcome was “inevitable”, he says, due to the want of impartiality in the investigation.

It would be an affront to natural justice and to his constitutional rights for the High Court to remit this case for further investigation, he claims.

‘Arguable’ legal grounds

Mr Justice Charles Meenan this week said he was satisfied the case raised “arguable” legal grounds warranting the court’s grant of permission for the man to pursue his claims.

The case came before him while only the man was represented in court and notified of the action.

This is the second High Court case this man (60s) has brought on foot of Tusla’s investigations into the woman’s claims.

Tusla first deemed the claims to be founded in 2019, but this was overturned with Tusla’s consent, due to a flaw in the inspector’s report, after the man sought High Court judicial review of the decision.

Another appraisal of the same allegations brought about a provisional “founded” finding last July, which the man now challenges.

In legal documents, the man, a father and grandfather, says the investigations came in response to his niece’s complaint to gardaí in 2016. No prosecution ensued, he says, but gardaí referred the matter to Tusla in 2017.

Primary school

In her Garda statement, the man alleges, the woman, by this stage a mother, claimed she had first reported the allegations in primary school in the early 1990s to a teacher who said she was lying and brushed it off.

She claimed she told a school friend when she was seven and told a family member, who the man claims is alleged to be his wife, on the day she says he raped her at a family gathering. He says his wife denies this disclosure was made to her.

He alleges the woman further claimed in the Garda statement that she disclosed the alleged abuse to a counsellor in secondary school and later to a psychologist when she was in her early 20s.

The man says the psychologist’s report of the disclosure referenced “genital touching” and did not mention rape. The Garda statement that came about eight years later alleged an incident of physical assault and rape in a bedroom, he alleged.

Tusla’s first investigation culminated in its since-quashed June 2019 finding.

Now, the man claims Tusla has “wilfully and consciously flouted” its 2014 policy directive in the conduct of its “purportedly fresh and impartial” inquiry. It has accepted “without demur” the woman’s 2016 Garda statement and failed, neglected and refused to interview her or to take a statement from her, he alleges.

The man claims the delay and lapse of more than two decades since the acts alleged make it unreasonable, unjust and an abuse of process to require him to meet the claims.

He alleges the inquiry and outcome are in “flagrant breach” of Tusla’s policy directive and “irredeemably tainted” by a serious and significant error or series of errors.

The man says he is fully supported by his wife and adult offspring, who, he says, were never mistreated by him. He and his wife are “baffled” by the allegations and “have no explanation for them”, he claims.

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