Woman suing grandparents following sexual assaults by grandfather

By Ann O’Loughlin

A young woman who was sexually assaulted by her grandfather has launched a High Court action against her grandparents including a claim her grandmother failed to exercise reasonable care for her safety when she was looking after her.

The woman who is in her 20s has also claimed her grandparents entered a conspiracy to defeat her claim for damages and her grandfather allegedly transferred three specified properties in to the grandmother’s name.

In the High Court today the woman who cannot be named by order of the court was granted orders directing her grandfather’s psychiatric records be given to her legal team.

She also won an order directing her grandparents to give details of property transactions.

Mr Jutice Anthony Barr said it was a somewhat unusual application where the young woman sought an order directing the grandfather should make discovery of his medical records from two psychiatric institutions.

The woman also sought discovery of documents relating to the transfers of certain properties from the grandfather to the grandmother which the young woman alleged was undertaken with a view to defeating her claim for damages against the grandfather.

The judge said the woman who is now in her 20s has alleged when she was aged between nine and twelve years old she was subjected to a large number of sexual assaults by her grandfather at various locations in Ireland and abroad when she was in his care.

It is alleged the abuse involved her grandfather intimately touching and rubbing the area of her private parts and this occurred on a weekly basis between June 2005 and January 2008.

Criminal charges were brought against the grandfather who pleaded guilty before the Circuit Criminal Court in 2010 to eighteen counts of offences against his grandaughter and was jailed.

The young woman in her civil ction is claiming damages including aggravated damages against her grandfather for assault, trespass to the person and breach of her constitutional right to bodily integrity.

She is claiming damages against her grandmother for alleged negligence in failing to exercise reasonable care for the safety of her grandaughter while she was being looked after by her grandparents.

She has further claimed that some time in May 2010, her grandparents allegedly entered a conspiracy to defeat her claim for damages and with intent to defraud her and render worthless any judgment obtained by her , her grandfather conveyed his interest in three specified properties to her grandmother.

Mr Justice Barr said in a defence filed there were certain partial admissions by the grandfather who put in issue certain matters in relation to his mental state at the time the admitted acts were carried out.

Mr Justice Barr said medical records in general and in particular psychiatric records are of a highly confidential nature and those who seek the help of a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor should be able to consult with them in the safe knowledge their communication is privileged from production to third parties.

However, the judge said while the court must approach any such application with great care and circumspection, if the court is satisfied it is necessary in the interests of doing justice between the parties,the court can direct discovery of the medical records.

The judge said he was satisfied as the grandfather had specifically put his mental state and his perception of the particular acts in issue in his defence it was appropriate to order the discovery. In the light of the claim for exemplary damages in the case, Mr Justice Barr also said discovery of the grandfather’s psychiatric records was necessary and relevant to this aspect of the case.


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