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Former judge jailed for four years for sexual assault

A former Circuit Court judge has been jailed for four years for sexually assaulting six boys and attempting to rape one of them.

59-year-old Gerard O’Brien was a secondary school teacher before becoming a solicitor and subsequently a judge.

He was found guilty of one count of attempted rape and eight counts of sexual assault.

Four of the six boys were students or former students of his at the time at CBC Monkstown in south Dublin.

The offences took place between 1991 and 1997 when the victims were aged between 17 and 24 years old.

O’Brien was born with no arms and only one leg.

The court heard this was probably as a result of his mother taking the drug thalidomide when she was pregnant.

He was in his late 20s and early 30s at the time of the offences.

He had denied all the allegations but was found guilty by a jury last year.

The judge said O’Brien had misused his disability to take advantage of his victims.

He said O’Brien had engaged in predatory behaviour and the jury could have had no doubt that he had manipulated things to give him the opportunity to engage in these activities.

Victim impact statements

O’Brien’s sentencing hearing last month heard victim impact statements from three of his victims.

Judge Alexander Owens had delayed sentencing in order to hear from prison authorities about the measures they could in place to deal with O’Brien’s disabilities.

The court heard O’Brien needed assistance dressing and undressing and going to the toilet.

Some of the victims had been involved in helping O’Brien with these tasks.

Read more:
‘Egotistical and conniving’ – victim tells of judge sexual abuse
Circuit Court judge Gerard O’Brien resigns

Prosecuting counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor said O’Brien had developed inappropriate relationships with students, which involved giving them alcohol and taking them to the pub.

The court heard there was a culture of excessive alcohol use around the school at the time.

One of the victims asked if the school could have done more to protect the boys.

He said he felt he had been manipulated by an extremely egotstical, conniving, intelligent man who was pushing boundaries to see what he could get away with for sexual thrills.

Another man said he suffered from chronic anxiety and had made a suicide attempt.

He said he believed he would never fully recover from the mental damage O’Brien had inflicted on him.

O’Brien’s defence counsel Michael O’Higgins said his client’s disabilities made the case very unusual and unique.

He said O’Brien had scaled lofty heights but had now lost everything.

O’Brien was a former state solicitor for north Tipperary.

He became a Circuit Court judge in 2015 and resigned in January this year after his conviction.

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