'It's not your fault' - Sisters abused by father appeal for other victims to come forward

By Sarah-Jane Murphy

A woman who was raped by her father has encouraged other victims of sexual abuse and rape to come forward, saying it’s never too late.

Amy Barrett was speaking after her father, a retired soldier, was jailed for ten years for the rape of his daughter and the regular abuse of another daughter.

Having waived her anonymity Amy Barret said: “It’s not your fault. I didn’t ask for this and Melissa didn’t ask for this either.

Melissa O’Keefe (left) and her sister Amy Barrett leave the Central Criminal Court in Dublin earlier this month. Pic Collins Courts.

Justice Patrick McCarthy said that Jerry O’Keeffe’s crimes brought about the destruction of his daughters’ childhoods.

“It is hard to find words to describe each new outrage inflicted on these children,” the judge said.

O’Keeffe (69), of Oakhill, Youghal, Cork, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three charges of rape, five of indecent assault and one of sexual assault. These were nine sample charges out of a total of 78 covering a period from January 1980 to March 1987.

At a pre-sentencing hearing last October, Timothy O’Leary SC, prosecuting, told the court that both women were waiving their right to anonymity

Speaking outside court Amy Barrett said she and her sister Melissa O’Keeffe were happy with the sentence, but sad at the same time as O’Keeffe is still their father.

“It’s almost like we’re in mourning for him now.

“It was never about the sentence it was always about an admission of guilt, keeping him away from other kids, and getting closure for ourselves,” she said.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said O’Keeffe committed extremely serious offences and it beggared belief that a man could behave in such a fashion.

In her victim impact statement, Amy Barrett described her childhood as very traumatic, and said she was “a mixed bag of confusion and terror” as a result of her father’s crimes.

KEYWORDS: Court, Rape


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