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I will have the fear forever - woman raped as child by her brother-in-law

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Bartholomew Prendergast

Bartholomew Prendergast

Bartholomew Prendergast

A woman who was sexually abused and raped by her brother-in-law when she was a child has asked how the abuse continued when he was "supposedly fixed" after a priest directed him to get counselling.

Stephanie Hickey (46) and her sister, Deirdre Fahy (52), waived their right to anonymity so Bartholomew Prendergast could be named.

The Waterford County Council worker will be sentenced in November for the sexual abuse and rape of the sisters and a third woman over 12 years.

Prendergast (65) of Cruachan, Dungarvan, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the offences following a day of legal arguments after a jury had been sworn in for his trial.

He has recently retired, is a well-known musician locally and has since separated from his wife. He has three adult children and has no previous convictions.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of rape and 13 counts of indecent assault of his sister-in-law Stephanie Hickey at locations in Co Waterford and Co Tipperary on dates between 1983 and 1987.

Ms Hickey was aged between 12 and 15 years old at the time of the offences.

Prendergast also pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault against Ms Fahy on a date between 1979 and 1981, while she was aged between 13 and 14 years old.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault of a third woman, now 39 years old, on dates between 1988 and 1991, while she was aged between nine and 12 years old. She is aware Prendergast will be named, but does not wish to be identified.

Ms Hickey took the stand to read her victim impact statement and said: "I was led to believe by a family friend, a priest, that in the 80s you were fixed.

"Who fixed you, was it the Catholic Church or HSC? I was told that there was proof of this or so my sister, your wife, told me just under three years ago.

"If you were supposedly fixed why did you continue to abuse me for years after? For this I feel very hurt, and let down by whoever fixed you. I need answers from whom you spoke to help you at this time and again why as a child I wasn't protected.

Virginity

"I lost my virginity because of you and I wasn't even old enough to understand what you were taking from me. For this I will never ever forgive you.

"When all these rape and sexual abuses took place, I would feel like I was going to die, I would feel as if I was choking and could not breathe.

"The fear was and will forever be inside me. This is all down to you again for this I can never forgive you in my lifetime."