€25,000 compensation for hurler ‘traumatised to his core’ after sexual assault by idol

A 72-year-old former hurling coach who pleaded guilty to indecently and sexually assaulting a young boy received a five year suspended prison sentence at Kilkenny Circuit Criminal Court last Thursday.

A 72-year-old former hurling coach who pleaded guilty to indecently and sexually assaulting a young boy received a five year suspended prison sentence at Kilkenny Circuit Criminal Court last Thursday.

Judge Alice Doyle suspended the sentence on condition Kevin Ryan, 20 Greenfields, Freshford Road, Kilkenny keeps the peace for seven years and continues to attend therapy until such time it is deemed necessary he no longer needs it.

Judge Doyle also directed Ryan to pay €25,000 to the victim ‘to do with as he so wishes’, that he was to have no contact with persons under sixteen and she excluded him from becoming a member of any GAA club.

Pleaded guilty to assaulting three boys in ‘05

Previously, in February 2005, Ryan pleaded guilty to indecent and sexual assaults on three young boys (one of them a younger brother of this fourth victim) on dates between November 1986 and June 1991.

A suspended sentence was also imposed and Judge Michael O’Shea ordered the accused to pay €20,000 compensation and for this to be divided equally among the three victims.

Judge Doyle said Mr Ryan was trusted and idolised by young hurlers and he weedled his way into families and ruined them. “He breached the trust of a community, family and child. As a result of his actions, the injured party is traumatised to his core.”

House of degradation and horror

She commended the strength and bravery of the injured party to make a complaint. “A massive amount of bravery is needed to come forward in a sexual assault case and the trauma of being in court and hearing your life laid bare.”

Judge Doyle said Ryan groomed this young boy, overtly with presents and creating jealously among his siblings and leading to a rift at home.

“As a result of that rift, he went to the accused’s home for sanctuary but it turned out to be a house of degradation and horror. The offences may be at the lower end of the scale but the effect on the injured party is at the higher end of the scale.”

She felt Ryan, upon realising his victim was in court, expressed heartfelt remorse when he was in the witness box and said the fact he entered a guilty plea at an early stage meant his victim hadn’t to give evidence.

Hope injured party finds peace

“The injured party is to be commended for not being vengeful. He is looking for peace and I hope he gets it,” commented Judge Doyle.

Sergeant Canice O’Gorman, who was the investigating Garda in the case heard eight years ago, indicated back then there were more victims out there and he wasn’t surprised when the injured party made a statement to him on April 12, 2011.

The offences were committed between 1987 and 1993, starting when the injured party - who has gone on to be become a counsellor working with sex abuse victims – was just eleven years old.

Ryan was a friend of the family and the injured party knew him from the time he was eight. In 1987, on the way home from Croke Park after watching Tipperary and Kilkenny in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final, Ryan parked up his car and began touching the genital area of the injured party who pretended to be asleep. “It was his way of coping,” explained Sgt O’Gorman.

Always dropped home last from training

After hurling training, Ryan would drop boys home and the injured party was always the last left in his car. He would stop in a gateway a short distance away and begin touching the injured party’s private parts. This happened over a number of years.

Ryan would encourage the young boy at training, saying ‘well done’ and he bestowed lots of gifts on him – chocolate bars, hurleys and sliotars – building trust.

On a Sunday night, Ryan would go out with the parents of the injured party. They’d return to their house with Ryan who’d go upstairs, enter the injured party’s bedroom, place his hands under the cover and masturbate him. “This had a profound effect on the victim all through his adult life. And it happened nearly every Sunday night for a year,” outlined Sgt O’Gorman.

Presents that led to jealousy

The presents and attention Ryan gave to the injured party led to jealousy and rows at home and he’d move out of home and into Ryan’s home on occasion.

On an occasion where Ryan stayed in Dublin at his sister’s house, he’d the injured party with him and he got into bed beside him and put his penis between his legs and had mock sex. “The injured party would pretend to be asleep to deal with it,” said Sgt O’Gorman.

The injured party recalled how he was allowed drive Ryan’s car on Dollymount Strand while he sat on his lap and he touched him around the genital area. He also recalled staying at Ryan’s house at Greenfields where he’d be asleep in a single bed and Ryan would get in beside him and fondle him.

‘Sorry for what he had done’

The allegations were put to the accused on June 9, 2011 and he made admissions and apologised through his statement saying he was ‘sorry for what he had done’.

Responding to questions from prosecuting barrister Brian O’Shea, Sgt O’Gorman said the injured party was groomed and taken in by Ryan, so much so that he asked Ryan to be the god-father of his first born child.

He said the injured party was the older brother of one of the three boys involved in the 2005 case. He has deep feelings of guilt because he didn’t know Ryan was abusing his brother and felt if he had spoken out sooner about what happened it mightn’t have happened to his younger brother.

Ryan groomed and abused victim

Mr O’Shea read the victim impact report of the injured party. “Kevin Ryan groomed me and abused me. He brought me to club and county matches. Hurling was my life growing up and he manipulated this. It was premeditated, he was one of my father’s best friends.

“The strain of my siblings fighting because of Ryan’s gifts to me led to me moving out of home at an early age. At 18, I couldn’t talk about the abuse for the sake of my own son. I carried a heavy burden by keeping it a secret.

“My father died and the funeral was difficult as Ryan attended. I suffer recurring nightmares reliving the abuse. I met my current partner when I was 22. I have been on medication and need sleeping tablets. I work as a joiner and at 29 I left Ireland. I drove past Ryan’s house every time I went home and people knew what he’d done as it was already in the papers.

Blamed for abuse of younger brother

“When I told my mother, it devastated her and she blamed me for the abuse of my younger brother. Kevin Ryan’s actions have destroyed our lives.”

Aidan Doyle SC said the defendant didn’t go to hurling matches any longer. He previously worked as a forestry manager up to 2005, was originally from Clonmel and lived a short time in Galway. His mother died in 1971 and he came back to Greenhills to look after his father. He was in a relationship and it broke down. He spoke of his own loneliness for getting involved in sexual deviance.

Mr Doyle said the injured party was damaged but commended him as he didn’t wish the worst for Mr Ryan and wasn’t crying out for a custodial sentence to be imposed.

Low risk of accused re-offending

Ryan completed an intensive course of treatment with the Granada Institute and he was also attending therapy in Waterford. Mr Doyle said in ’05 it was estimated there was a low risk him of re-offending.

Sgt O’Gorman agreed but added ‘you can never be 100% sure’.

In ’05 he felt there were more victims out there and responding to Judge Doyle he said people have to be brave to speak out and make a complaint. “A lot of people just want to forget and at this stage other people may not come forward and I think this investigation has gone as far as it can. I don’t think we’ll see Mr Ryan before a court again.”

In the witness box Kevin Ryan said, “I’m sorry for everything I did.” He said he was a ‘bit shaky’ and had prepared a letter. “I’m extremely sorry for my actions and I assure you these awful occurrences will never happen again.”

He referred to his treatment at Granada Institute and Waterford and the atmosphere of calm discipline and healing giving peace to his troubled mind.

Ryan ashamed of his actions

He said he hadn’t re-offended in any way since 2002 and he intended to keep attending therapy until he was fully healed. “I’m now happiest in my garden and fill my days looking after the flowers and my feathered friends.” Mr Ryan also helps to take care of his elderly neighbours.

On learning the injured party was in the courtroom, Ryan apologised to him and said he always had been and always will be fond of him. “I’m ashamed of my actions.”