A man has been convicted of sexually assaulting a female employee on his dairy farm.
The man has been given a suspended prison sentence for the sexual assault, following a charge under Section 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990.
To protect the identity of the woman we are not naming the defendant.
The incident occurred on a farm in Kilkenny, on June 27, 2020. The woman was an employee of the dairy enterprise and had been at work early for milking, getting up at 4.30am. The defendant is the manager and co-owner of the enterprise.
When milking was finished the woman went back to the defendant’s home, a short distance from the milking parlour, as normal, for breakfast.
After that they had to enter details of heifers on a computer system.
The woman had worked on the farm for some time. She had also travelled to work on a farm in New Zealand, organised by her employer.
When she returned to Ireland the defendant indicated he felt strongly towards her. She had a long term partner and told the defendant she was not interested, he was just a friend.
On the day of the incident the woman fell asleep on the couch as the defendant was working on the computer. When she woke up he was lying beside her. She went to the bathroom and when she came back sat in a different place. She fell asleep again.
When the woman next woke up she could feel pressure on her vagina. The defendant was stroking her, through her clothes. He was kneeling beside her and had his trousers down, masturbating with his other hand.
The woman jumped up and ran out of the room, using some strong words towards the defendant. When she came back he apologised to her and said he was embarrassed. He said he just wanted to give her a hug.
The woman walked back across the fields to the milking parlour to her car, and left.
She drove to a nearby petrol station from where she rang her partner and then her mother to come and collect her because she was upset. She went straight to the gardaí.
The following morning gardaí arrested the defendant. During interview he said he believed he was in a relationship with the woman. He said she ceased employment on his farm because of the torment she felt because of this.
The woman told gardaí under no circumstances was this the case. She was with her partner for four years and they were going through IVF treatment at the time.
The man said the woman’s allegations were “disgusting” and denied all allegations.
In October 2020 the woman contacted gardaí, very upset and distressed. She said the man had followed her a number of times and that day she had followed her onto her own family farm. She drove into the yard and ran to her father.
The defendant drove up to them and made admissions about what happened. He said he had been trying to make contact with her to apologise.
The garda visited the defendant and he was apologetic. For the first time he made a full admission of what he had done.
He went to the garda station and made a statement accepting the woman had given a correct version of events.
He said he shouldn’t have done it. He expressed regret for the way he dealt with the matter, and for the first interview, and accepted what he said was all untrue.
The woman was relieved to hear he had admitted what he had done.
The court heard the man had not come to garda attention before or since.
In court the defendant said he deeply apologised for his actions. The events of that day had lived with him since and he regretted not making an admission in his first interview.
He said he had told his family and his business partner about the matter. He is in a new relationship and all three were with him in court, in support.
He said he would never appear before the court again.
The court heard the man has an agricultural degree and works five to seven days a week, depending on the time of year. His farm has a herd of 300 milking cows.
He has a history of depression but his life is good at the moment. The court heard the man is sorry for the hurt he caused and if he could take back what he had done he would.
The man’s barrister said a probation report on his client was positive. The man had also attended counselling.
Judge Catherine Staines convicted the man on the charge of sexual assault.
She said aggravating factors were the man’s position of trust and that the woman had made it clear to him she was not interested in him romantically. He took advantage of the woman while she was asleep.
Judge Staines said mitigating factors were the defendant’s early plea. She noted a doctor’s report which said the defendant acted on impulse and in an inappropriate manner which he regrets.
The man will now be placed on the sexual offenders register.
Judge Staines imposed a two year prison sentence, to be suspended for three years on conditions the defendant attend all appointments with and follow the directions of the Probation Service, and also that he continue with the psychological and health support services.
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