A former teacher went on trial on Tuesday accused of more than 40 counts of indecently assaulting pupils at a primary school in Limerick.
The man, who cannot be named to protect the identifies of the alleged victims, denies all 44 counts of indecent assault of several pupils in his class between the late 1970s and early 1980s.
A jury of eight men and four women at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court heard evidence from a number of the accused’s former male pupils who claimed he would touch their “penises” and their “backsides”.
The witnesses gave evidence that the accused would put his hands up inside their clothing and rub their nipples, chests, and private parts on an almost daily basis.
The assaults are alleged to have occurred in a classroom, a boiler/heater room, and a bathroom at the school.
One alleged victim gave evidence in court that the accused would molest him on an almost daily basis.
The accused would approach the witness from behind and stick his hands down his trousers or up inside his shirt and touch his chest and genitals, the witness claimed.
“I didn’t want him to do it, but what could you do, he was the teacher, I was only 11,” said the witness.
Under cross-examination by the accused’s barrister, the witness agreed he did not disclose the alleged assaults until 2010, and that when he gave a statement to gardaí, he did not tell them that the accused had touched his penis.
The witness explained that he had given his statement to a “lady detective” and he was “ashamed of my life” to talk about his private parts, “how could you feel comfortable with saying that,” he said.
“The [accused] wrecked my whole life, I was on drugs because of him, I tried to commit suicide four times, I don’t drink or take drugs now,” the witness continued.
A second alleged victim told the court the accused instilled a “nervous” atmosphere in the classroom, and the accused would touch his private parts “once or twice a day during the school year”.
“Sometimes he’d sit next to you, rub us over our clothing or under our clothing, either my penis or my bum, maybe once, twice a day,” the second witness said.
The trial continues.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call the national 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline at 1800 77 8888, access text service and webchat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/, or visit Rape Crisis Help.
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.