Psychologist's 'panic' at false sex abuse report on garda whistleblower
The psychologist who mistakenly created a report containing a false sexual abuse allegation against whistleblower Gda Sgt Maurice McCabe has said she cannot clearly explain how the error was made.
Laura Brophy told the Disclosures Tribunal that she felt "a wave of panic" when she discovered she had wrongly drafted the report.
It was initially thought that a cut-and-paste error was to blame for the false allegation being included in a file passed from the HSE to gardai.
However, Ms Brophy said yesterday it was "just not clear" what had happened.
She was among the first witnesses to give evidence at the tribunal, which is investigating the circumstances surrounding a false allegation of sexual abuse against Sgt McCabe and whether it was used by senior officers to smear him.
Ms Brophy, an employee at Rian in Cavan, which is part of the HSE counselling service, told the tribunal she works with adults who may have been the victims of physical or psychological abuse in the past.
In 2013, a woman known as Ms D contacted the service seeking an appointment due to "everyday coping difficulties" and difficulties with relationships. Her father was a colleague of Sgt McCabe.
Ms Brophy said she had two meetings with Ms D. According to notes she made of the first meeting, Ms D said she had been abused by one of her father's colleagues during a game of hide and seek when she was six or seven.
She alleged this involved "molesting and dry humping me".
The incident did not come back to Ms D until she was 12 or 13 years of age.
According to Ms Brophy's notes, Ms D said her abuser was a garda in Bailieborough, Co Cavan, who was "forced out".
Sgt McCabe's name was not given to Ms Brophy at the first meeting but was given to her at the second.
According to Ms Brophy's notes, Ms D felt angry after the DPP directed there should be no prosecution.
Sgt McCabe has always denied the allegations.
Ms Brophy told counsel for the tribunal, Diarmaid McGuinness, that she was obliged under Children First guidelines to file a report with HSE social services when an alleged perpetrator of abuse is identified to her.
However, the report filed by her in 2013 contained incorrect information in a section where the alleged abuse was supposed to be described.
The account was that of another woman, Ms Y, who had suffered abuse in childhood, involving digital penetration, both vaginal and anal.
Ms Brophy said this was a mistake and Ms D never said anything of the sort.
She said there were several templates on her computer and presumed she had opened one when making Ms D's report.
"This has been an issue I have had to think a lot about in trying to understand how the error occurred. I can't say definitively how I input the data."
Ms Brophy said she had originally thought the mistake may have happened due to Ms D's report being filled out immediately after Ms Y's.
However, she discovered last week that there were three other reports filled out between Ms Y's and Ms D's.