The judge who yesterday jailed five men for a prolonged sexual attack on a teenager in the midlands sent a clear message about the depravity of their behaviour.
That is according to the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland, which has praised the woman’s bravery in coming forward – but criticised the length of time it took for her to get justice.
At the Central Criminal Court yesterday Judge Tara Burns sentenced four of the men to between 10 and 19 years in prison for raping the teen in various locations around the midlands.
She sentenced a fifth man to six years for sexually assaulting her.
“Consent is not a decision for the rapist”
In her sentencing, Judge Burns said the men “acted like animals” and labelled the depravity of their actions, “absolutely shocking”.
She noted that women are “not playthings” and that “just because she doesn’t shout or cry out doesn’t mean she’s consenting”.
Rape Crisis Network of Ireland Executive Director Cliona Sadlier told Newstalk Judge Burns sent a clear message to society.
“The judge talked about in sentencing about how she was not a plaything, and no woman is a plaything and I think that is really important and most shocking in this case,” she said.
“Just how objectified and dehumanised these men treated her.
“Indeed, disregarded her in her humanity entirely. I think it’s really important that we draw a line in the sand on that and talk about just how unacceptable and extraordinary that behaviour is.”
She said the men showed complete disregard for the teen.
“I think there is something really important here and I don’t think this is about appealing to our higher or better instincts,” she said.
“I think there is something much more important going on here about a system that is so misogynistic that somehow it has thought these boys and these young men that essentially women were playthings to bond over in their violence towards her.”
The girl was still a Leaving Cert student when she became separated from friends on a night out in Tullamore on St Stephen’s Day 2016.
After hearing her name called from a car as she walked back from a nearby takeaway outlet, she got in, wrongly thinking it was her friends.
Four of the men raped her and a fifth sexually assaulted her in various locations around the midlands.
Judge Burns noted that the “act of a gang rape” was “offending behaviour of the most serious kind”.
She described the survivor as “an absolutely amazing young woman” and said she was “absolutely taken aback” by her humility and dignity throughout the trial.
If you are affected by any of the issues discussed in this article you can contact the National 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline on 1800 77 8888.