A young student who was sexually assaulted on the street outside a Cork nightclub has said she is ‘keeping her head held high’ after getting herself through a dark time.
Rachel McElroy was just 18 years old when she was assaulted outside the nightclub two years ago.
Yesterday, 28-year-old Bagrat Kudzievi of Albert Road in Cork city, was jailed for seven years over the attack.
The Georgian Martial Arts expert was in Ireland illegally and judge Tara Burns suspended the final year of the sentence provided he leaves the country immediately upon his release.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Ms McElroy said she dropped out of college, was drinking a lot and barely left the house for a while after the attack.
“I am doing a lot better,” she said. “I went back to college.
“I dropped out of my first year of college over the incident, but I since then have returned to college and I’m working and everything – so I’m keeping my head held high now.”
At the sentencing hearing yesterday, Judge Burns described the attack as “every young woman’s worst nightmare” and said Kudzievi had taken advantage of Ms McElroy’s intoxicated state.
The court heard Kudzievi approached Ms McElroy inside the nightclub and, within minutes, had separated her from her friends and taken her outside.
He walked her to a nearby alcove where he sexually assaulted her.
When he became aware that some people were recording him on mobile phones, he picked her up and carried her away before sexually assaulting her again on the pavement on a nearby street.
Nightclub security staff caught him in the act after they started searching for Ms McElroy due to their concerns about her welfare.
“It was my first college night out and I didn’t really know people from college so I just got on to my friends from Cork to ask them to come out,” said Ms McElroy.
“So, we all decided to go out. I went up to my friend’s house and we had a couple of pre-drinks up there and then we headed into town.
“Me and my friend went straight up to the bar. We got a shot each. We drank them, we went to the bathroom, we came back out and we were dancing.
“After that I went back up to the bar to order another drink, but I don’t remember ordering another drink or having another drink in my hand that night.
“It took him seven minutes to lead me outside of the place.”
Speaking outside court yesterday, Mr McElroy said she was “disgusted” at the people who recorded the incident without trying to help her.
She told Ciara she is not sure who they were because she still has no memory of the incident.
“All I know is that they took a video on Snapchat and put it all over Snapchat,” she said.
“I found out whenever we were in court because I think it was only a last-minute bit of evidence they found.
“It kind of embarrassed me because I do know a lot of people around the Cork area. I don’t know who those two girls were, but they could know the same people that I know and they had it up on Snapchat.
“I don’t know if my face is in it or anything - but no matter if my face is in it or not, they shouldn’t have taken that video or posted it anywhere.”
"They should have checked"
She said the people who took the video should have checked whether she was OK.
“If they were any good, they would have come over and checked out if I was alright no matter if it was an assault or not,” she said.
“They should have come and checked. It is not usual for people to be having sexual contact outside.”