Former judge jailed for sexual assaults was ‘manipulator of the highest order’, says survivor

by micheljwpn

Former judge and teacher Gerard O’Brien was a “manipulator of the highest order” who has “never felt remorse,” one of his victims said on Friday after he was jailed for four years for the sexual assault of six young men and boys in the 1990s.

Gerard O’Brien resigned in January as a Circuit Court judge following his conviction on eight counts of sexual assault and one of attempted rape.

At the Central Criminal Court on Friday, Mr Justice Alexander Owens imposed an effective sentence of five years and nine months on O’Brien but suspended 21 months, meaning a total four years in jail.

O’Brien (59), with an address in Thurles, Co Tipperary, was born with no arms and one leg due to a rare birth defect. His offences were committed in 1991-1997 against four young males who were pupils or former pupils at CBC Monkstown while he knew the other two socially.

Five complainants gave evidence that they, on separate occasions, stayed overnight in O’Brien’s residence to help him dress in the morning and go to the toilet. They said they had been drinking, as had O’Brien, and woke to find him performing sexual acts on them to which they had not consented.

One complainant said O’Brien sexually assaulted him while he was bringing him to the toilet in a pub.

In his sentencing decision, Mr Justice Owens said it could be said in hindsight that O’Brien engaged in predatory behaviour and the offences caused his victims serious harm, particularly those who were his pupils. O’Brien had shown no remorse and the fact that O’Brien was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and teenager did not excuse his offences, he said.

‘Everyone is equal before the law, including judges’: the full story of the Gerard O’Brien case ]

In mitigation, he referred to O’Brien’s disability and noted he had not offended since 1997, when he was dismissed from his teaching position.

All six survivors were in court and appeared satisfied with the outcome.

One survivor said Mr Justice Owens’ summary of O’Brien as a person was “more important” than the length of sentence because the effects of O’Brien’s offending “will follow him for life”.

“He is a manipulator of the highest order, an evil person, he has never felt remorse.”

The survivor said he continues to struggle with the impact of the offences but added: “I would not let a man like that take me down.”

Praising the investigation led by Insp Jonathon Hayes of the Garda National Protective Service Bureau into the complaints against O’Brien, he said gardaí were “brilliant, caring and considerate”.

In a statement outside court, Det Chief Superintendent Colm Noonan of the GNPSB said: “This case sends a clear message that nobody is above the law, nobody is immune from prosecution for sexual crimes.”

The board of management of CBC Monkstown, in a statement, expressed “solidarity and support” for those past pupils abused by O’Brien.

“The evidence that emerged in this case has been truly shocking and a matter of profound regret for the whole school community,” it said. Counselling facilities were in place for survivors, pupil safety is “of the utmost importance” and “robust safeguarding procedures” are implemented in all school settings, it said.

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