Girl (5) 'lured to derelict house by three boys and beaten' in alleged assault
A five-year-old girl was "lured' to a derelict house and then beaten by three young boys who attempted to sexually assault her in a shed before she escaped and raised the alarm, it is alleged.
The girl knew the three boys, aged seven, eight and 10, who carried out the alleged assault and is understood to live close to them.
She was allegedly beaten with sticks but did not suffer any serious injuries during the incident.
The alleged attack happened a fortnight ago in the north-east of the country.
The Herald can reveal that the little girl "fought off" the attackers before fleeing the house.
"This could have been a whole lot worse if she had not fought back," a senior source said.
"This is a very, very upsetting case and all involved in it come from very decent families.
"Of course it is absolutely devastating for the close community they live in," the source added.
The incident is being investigated by a team of gardai from a local specialist unit, the Divisional Protective Services Unit.
Detectives are waiting to conduct detailed interviews with all four children involved.
Gardai have received an account that the five-year-old girl went with the three boys - whom she knew from the small town they live in - to a shed beside a derelict house and was beaten with sticks by the boys.
The girl fled the scene after she was beaten and then subjected to "inappropriate touching of a sexual nature" by the boys, it is alleged.
She managed to escape by fighting the boys off and ran home and informed her parents, who then contacted gardai and made an official complaint.
The case has also been referred to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
Its role is to assess whether there is a child protection issue and whether a child is at risk.
Gardai confirmed an investigation is under way but did not provide exact details about the "extremely sensitive" case.
The Children's Act states no child under the age of 12 can be charged with a criminal offence.
However, exceptions to this exist in cases of suspected rape or murder and in such instances children aged 10 and 11 can be charged.
This does not apply to the case in the north-east and prosecutions are unlikely.
"This is a highly unusual case that will require the work of specialist garda investigators," the source added.
"Everyone is just relieved that the girl did not come to more serious harm."