Octogenarian Kinlough man ordered to pay €100,000 to sexual assault victim

A County Leitrim man has been ordered to pay €100,000 damages to a young woman after the High Court found he sexually assaulted her when she was a child.

A County Leitrim man has been ordered to pay €100,000 damages to a young woman after the High Court found he sexually assaulted her when she was a child.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, found Laurence Cleary, now aged in his eighties, New Houses, Kinlough, Co Leitrim, had sexually assaulted Christina Foley, then his neighbour, on occasions during the 1990’s.

Cleary was not in court for the case and, due to ilnness, gave evidence on commission in which he denied the allegations.

In his judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Kearns said he accepted Ms Foley’s evidence and rejected Cleary’s. As a result of what had happened to her, Ms Foley was entitled to recover damages of €100,000, plus costs, from Cleary, the judge ruled.

The judge was told Ms Foley was waiving any right to anonymity so Cleary could be named in public.

When opening the case earlier this month, Anthony Barr SC, for Ms Foley, said the assaults began when she was aged eight and occurred in her own home, Cleary’s home and in other locations.

The assaults stopped when Ms Foley was in her early teens and temporarily moved to another area, counsel said. Ms Foley had later moved away from Ireland and made a new life for herself overseas.

Mr Barr said the assaults left his client traumatised and damaged her capacity to interact socially and sustain normal relations with others. She had undergone counselling.

In her evidence, Ms Foley, now aged 27, referred to three separate occasions when she said she was sexually assaulted by Cleary.

At the time, she did not understand what was happening to her and it took her a number of years to admit to others what had happened, she said. She made a statement to the Gardai in 2005.