herald

Sunday 28 May 2017

'More monsters must be made to pay', says victim of child abuse predator

Depraved Michael Casey (72) is led away in handcuffs after being jailed earlier this month
Depraved Michael Casey (72) is led away in handcuffs after being jailed earlier this month

A young woman who was subjected to years of sexual abuse by a family friend has opened up about the attacks carried out by a man she describes as "evil" and a "monster".

The brave victim, who is now 20, has urged others to come forward and help bring their abusers to justice - something that she says helped save her life.

Earlier this month, depraved predator Michael Casey (72), of Cois Rioga, Caherconlish, Co Limerick, was given concurrent jail terms of six years and four years on a total of 16 charges of the defilement of a child.

Casey, who set up a children's charity in west Africa, maintained his innocence even after the jury found him guilty, and described the accusations as "lies".

Horrible

The abuse happened at a number of locations, including the victim's home and a disused factory, from June 2009 to December 2011, with one attack taking place on the morning of her Junior Cert exam.

The trial also heard distressing evidence from the victim that the sexual contact escalated to such an extent that she ended up "just giving in".

"He would do it before I could say anything really. He did it several times and very often it was every week or more," she said.

Jane (not her real name) was just 13 when the abuse began.

"Even though it's over, it still doesn't feel over. I'm still expecting to see him in the street, even though I know he's in prison. There's always that fear of feeling unsafe," she told the Herald. "I'm not exactly satisfied [with the sentence] because what he did was disgusting and there are people who could be robbing cars that would get more than he did.

"I don't understand the system to give him just six years when he's clearly a monster."

During the three-year period of abuse, she asked Casey why he did those things, only to be told it was "to teach me sexual things" and that he was preparing her for "later in life", it emerged during the court case.

Jane said it was like a "kick in the stomach" to hear her abuser describe what happened as lies, and to hear the defence cast aspersions during five hours of being cross-examined.

"It hurt a lot. It came out in the cross-examination from his side as well. I knew what he was saying - about the lies and that it was fantasy - and the second I heard him say that it felt like a kick in the stomach, because he was blaming it on the fact I loved reading when I was younger.

"It's a horrible feeling, that he can be that evil to say I made it up and for it to be just fantasy."

Casey, who was 63 when the abuse started, was good friends with Jane's father as they both worked in retail. He was also involved in voluntary work and helped set up a charity in Ghana, providing literacy skills to children and adults.

The abuse came to light when Jane confided in a friend in 2012. Comments were made blaming her parents for letting the abuse happen, which she described as "horrible" and "wrong".

"People blame my parents for making me trust him, but that isn't the case at all. He was in my life since I was six. So it wasn't like it was all of a sudden," she said.

Jane also asked other victims of abuse to come forward.

Secret

"Speak up because I know for a fact if I didn't speak up about what happened to me I would be dead by now; because of the fact that I was keeping it in, the depression of that and feeling as if the world is on your shoulders," she said.

"But if we keep quiet we let the abusers and molesters get away with what they've done.

"I know what it's like to keep that secret in. I know what it's like in the aftermath. I know everything is hard, but it will get better."

Jane also thanked those who supported her during a five- year legal battle.

"I just want to thank my close friends and family, as well as the investigating gardai, the State solicitor's office, my school and the CARI Foundation. I wouldn't have got through this without their help," she said.

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