Woman says principal who gave her lifts to school raped her in car

Woman Says Principal Who Gave Her Lifts To School Raped Her In Car
A young woman has claimed before the High Court she was repeatedly raped in the car of a school principal who gave her lifts to her own school each morning.
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High Court reporters

A young woman has claimed before the High Court she was repeatedly raped in the car of a school principal who gave her lifts to her own school each morning.

She is suing the man, who was a principal in another school near the one she was attending, claiming damages over what she says was a series of sexual assaults and rapes in his car during 2009 and 2010 when she was around 16.


The claims are strongly denied. The man says that while he gave her lifts, the assaults never happened.

The court heard she made a complaint to the gardaí in 2011 but the DPP decided not to prosecute him.

The woman claims he groomed her initially during the 40-minute drive to school by talking about whether she had a boyfriend and that she would "look good in a leotard" when she told him about her dancing classes.

It is alleged the assault started with him touching inside her thigh. He told her how lovely she was and that she would not do anything silly.


It escalated into him making her rub his penis as he drove before then using his knowledge of the locality to take back roads and make her perform oral sex, John Paul Shortt SC, with Niall Beirne SC, told the court when opening the case on Wednesday.

Mr Shortt said matters took a somewhat dark or sinister turn in 2010 after she informed him that a member of her family was getting psychiatric treatment. "Not only did the assaults continue, but they escalated, ultimately leading to the defendant raping (her)", counsel said.

The first time he raped her was when he pulled into the side of the road and told her there was something in the glove box and said she should take it out. It was a condom which he said she could put on him, counsel said.

He then pushed back her seat and raped her, told her she was a special girl and not to tell anyone, or he would hurt her, he said.


The assaults and rapes increased up to the end of the school year. On certain occasions, counsel said, he took off his trouser belt and tied it around her neck and the headrest, so she could not move.

Counsel said he also gave her money, initially €10, then €20, then €50 when the rapes started, but she simply wrapped the money up in paper and threw them in the school bin. She said she threw the money away because "it was dirty".

The man also warned her he would kill her if she told anyone, which "absolutely terrified" her, counsel said.

At the end of May 2010, she tried to resist him, but he locked the door preventing her from getting out and then raped her, he said.


In August 2010, he informed her family he would not be giving her lifts anymore.

The assaults had a "devastating effect" on her, causing her grades to suffer and ultimately leading her to being unable to pursue the career she wanted as she did not get enough points in the Leaving Certificate, he said. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and continues to take medication to deal with panic attacks and the mental effects of the assaults, the court heard.


In direct evidence, the woman told the court she decided to tell her own school’s vice-principal about what had happened to her in the winter of 2011/12 after she had serious suicidal thoughts. The vice principal recommended she tell her parents and from there, the gardaí got involved.

She felt devastated when the DPP said he would not prosecute. Her solicitor tried to find out why but at the time the DPP was not obliged to give a reason for the decision, she said.


She hoped to get closure in the future and hopefully improve her mental state.

Under cross-examination by Conall McCarthy BL, for the defendant, she agreed she had been receiving mental health treatment as a result of serious bullying at school before the lifts to school started.

She also agreed she had experienced suicidal ideation before the assaults but said, unlike after the assaults, she had never "put a plan in place" to do so.

She disagreed that there was "little talk in the car" or any talk about her attire or boyfriends on the journeys to school.

The case continues before Mr Justice Tony O'Connor.

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.

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