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Thursday 21 November 2019

'I hope scout leader abuser thinks of me every day in prison- I put him there'

Brave sexual assault survivor Colm Bracken hopes it might be easier for others to come forward since the case. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Brave sexual assault survivor Colm Bracken hopes it might be easier for others to come forward since the case. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM

A man who was sexually assaulted by a scout leader when he was 13 has urged any potential other victims to come forward after his abuser was finally jailed.

James Leddy (56) was yesterday sentenced to three months in prison after being found guilty of abusing his neighbour Colm Bracken on three occasions in 1981.

The court heard how the assaults, at Leddy's former home in Artane, involved him offering his victim cigarettes to "set a trap" before assaulting him.

Judge Pauline Codd sentenced the accused, of Sheephill Avenue in Blanchardstown, to eight months in prison on each count to run concurrently, suspending the last five months.

Crime

The maximum sentence on each count, due to the historical nature of the crime, was two years' imprisonment.

Throughout his trial, and even after being convicted, James Leddy denied any wrongdoing, but at a hearing in July he said he was sorry for the abuse - while still maintaining he did not recall it.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald after the sentencing, brave Mr Bracken described Leddy's claim of not remembering the abuse as "a joke" and said that he does not believe Leddy is remorseful.

Mr Bracken also said that, immediately after the sentencing, the jail term felt "like a kick in the gut".

However, he now says he is "elated" over the prison term given to his abuser for the historical incidents 38 years ago, and is appealing for more abuse victims to come forward.

"I hope now when the prison door closes, every night he's in there, that I'm the last person he thinks of," he said.

James Leddy was sentenced to eight months in prison, with the last five suspended. Photo: Collins Courts
James Leddy was sentenced to eight months in prison, with the last five suspended. Photo: Collins Courts

"When he wakes up in the morning, he thinks of me. When he sits down for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Every time he looks at a plate, a cup, or when he looks in the mirror having a wash, that he thinks of me. Because I'm the one who put him there.

"That was the aim of the game, I guess, to get him locked up and put it out there. It might be a little easier for other people now to come forward, if there is anybody else who has a past with him."

A claim by Leddy that he himself had been abused as a schoolboy was brought up in court, but Mr Bracken refuses to accept this as an excuse for his abuser's actions.

"This is the first time I've heard in court that he was sexually abused. He said he was sexually abused in school.

"He sexually abused me. Another man sexually abused me. I didn't carry on what they did.

Stronger

"So it actually makes me a stronger person than those two," Mr Bracken said.

The Herald first revealed Leddy's abuse in January and how he was still driving a children's school bus even after being convicted.

Yesterday, Dublin Circuit Court also heard how Leddy began seeking psychiatric help in 2012 when the abuse first came to light, which Mr Bracken says was the abuser "playing the system".

Evidence was given of how Leddy, a former scout leader who is now married with five children, abused Mr Bracken on three separate occasions.

The first time Leddy, then aged 17, offered his young victim cigarettes and told him he would teach him first aid.

However, he sexually assaulted Mr Bracken and threatened to tell his parents he smoked if he revealed the abuse.

Days later, Leddy carried out an oral sexual assault on Mr Bracken.

The third time, Leddy was in the process of opening the teenage boy's trousers when there was a knock on the door and he stopped.

Years later, Mr Bracken was hospitalised following a suicide attempt as a result of the abuse.

The judge also noted that the abuse occurred when there was "much repression and secrecy in relation to sexual matters" in Ireland.

Mr Bracken's friend Paul O'Toole, who read out a victim impact statement on his behalf, yesterday hit out at Leddy using his own abuse as mitigation.

"The factor that makes me sick to my core is these guys coming up and saying they were molested," Mr O'Toole said.

"Now maybe they were, maybe they weren't.

"Colm was molested and he didn't turn out to be a paedophile. I was molested and I didn't turn out to be a paedophile," he added.

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