Former teacher accused of indecently assaulting pupil says he fantasised about her

Former Teacher Accused Of Indecently Assaulting Pupil Says He Fantasised About Her
Jacintha McSherry O'Connor (63) told gardaí nothing 'untoward' happened between her and the boy. Photo: Collins
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Isabel Hayes

A former secondary school teacher accused of indecently assaulting a male student 40 years ago told gardaí he fantasised about her and had a crush on her, her trial has heard.

Jacintha McSherry O'Connor (63) told gardaí nothing “untoward” happened between her and the boy, whom she said she thought of as a little brother, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Friday.


Ms McSherry O'Connor of The Mullins, Donegal Town, Co. Donegal, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecently assaulting a child on dates between June 1st and September 1st 1985. She was aged 24 at the time, and he was 13.


The incidents are alleged to have happened while Ms McSherry O'Connor worked as a student teacher at a school in Dublin.

It is alleged that Ms McSherry O'Connor indecently assaulted the boy on two occasions in his home when she gave him grinds. These are the charges the jury must decide on.

It is alleged there was also sexual contact between the boy and the accused on a holiday she attended with his family in Spain.


Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, read out the transcripts of garda interviews with Ms McSherry O’Connor in March 2022 to the jury. In a prepared statement she brought to the garda station, Ms McSherry O’Connor said she remembered the boy as being “earnest, intense and driven”.

She said he was extremely helpful and offered to carry her books when she had a lot of materials to carry, and she said it became apparent to her that he had a “crush” on her. She said she was asked to give him grinds and that the boy “admitted” to her that he had asked his mother to arrange these grinds.

“Nothing untoward ever happened when I was giving him grinds in his house,” Ms McSherry O'Connor told gardaí, the court heard. She said they did have some “tough conversations” in which the boy told her he was being bullied.

She said that after she had an unwelcome encounter with a senior teacher in the school, she told the boy what had happened to her. “After that, he became more obsessed with me,” she said. “I thought of him as a little brother.”



In relation to the holiday in Spain, Ms McSherry O'Connor said she and her friend were staying in the same building as the boy and his family, but it was a separate holiday, and she only saw them a handful of times, including a one-day excursion to a water park.

Ms McSherry O'Connor said that after the holiday, the boy continued calling to her house. She said he would sometimes stay for Top of the Pops, and her mother occasionally gave him dinner. She said she was hoping his feelings for her would “fizzle out”.

Ms McSherry O'Connor told gardaí that one day, the boy called to the house and told her he wouldn't be calling anymore. She said her father then commented that the boy had “finally got over his crush and knew nothing is going to happen with a woman twice his age”.

When asked by gardaí if anything untoward happened between them on holiday, Ms McSherry O'Connor replied: “Absolutely not.”


When asked if she performed oral sex on the boy when they were on holiday, she replied: “Oh my God, no way. No, no, no, no, no.”

She told gardaí she didn't know why he was now making these allegations. “I know he sort of fantasised at the time. He might have blown it up in his head, I don't know.”

When asked by gardaí how it came about that, the boy was comfortable enough to say he was fantasising about her; Ms McSherry O'Connor said they “got on” and the boy “could say anything” to her. She said she brushed the fantasising comment aside.

When asked if she didn't think it was “weird” that the boy would call to her house, she said that it was “probably the bullying” and that she was a support for him.


The complainant, now aged in his 50s, has told the jury he was “infatuated” with Ms Sherry O'Connor as a child and thought he was “in love”. But he said the alleged sexual incidents started “eating away” at him as time went on.

He told the court he confided in his girlfriend about the alleged abuse when he was 19 but didn't go to gardaí until more recently.


Under cross-examination from defence counsel Patrick McGrath SC on Friday, the man agreed that the alleged sexual abuse took place over “a relatively short period of time”. “But the manipulation lasted almost a year,” he said.

He said he couldn't remember various details that the defence was putting to him, such as an after-school club or a ride in a water park on holiday, because it was “almost 40 years ago”.

“What I remember is her actually sexually abusing me,” he said. “They are the things that are burnt on my mind that I remember.”

Mr McGrath put it to the man that his contact with Ms McSherry O'Connor came to an end because she was finishing up in school, and he cycled to her home to say goodbye. The man disagreed, saying, “I didn't want to see her again”.

“She left me shattered,” he said. “My whole teenage years were shattered because of her manipulation and abuse.

Mr McGrath put it to the complainant that he was “not telling the truth in relation to these matters at all”. “She never inappropriately touched you or did any of the sexual things that you have said here today and yesterday.” The man disagreed.

The man's former girlfriend also gave evidence briefly. She told the court that the man told her he had been sexually abused by his teacher, Ms McSherry O'Connor when he was 13. She said he was 19 when he told her this and that he was very upset, crying and embarrassed.

The trial resumes on Monday before Judge Elma Sheahan and a jury.

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