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Childhood trauma and its consequences
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 12:55 pm 
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20 July 2007 Irish Examiner Newspaper

Suicide victim?s family win landmark case against abuser

By Conor Kane

THE family of a Kilkenny woman who was sexually abused as a child and later took her own life have won a landmark civil case for wrongful death against her abuser.


The family of 26-year-old Jane Roberts, who committed suicide in 2000, 18 years after being assaulted and sexually abused in a public swimming pool in Thurles, were awarded damages of ?25,395 yesterday at Clonmel Circuit Court.

Afterwards, her parents described Judge Alice Doyle?s ruling as ?a triumph for Jane, our daughter? and encouraged the families of other abuse victims to take similar actions against the perpetrators. Judge Doyle found the sexual abuse caused psychiatric illness in the victim which, in turn, led to several suicide attempts and, eventually, death.

The case was taken by father, Dave Roberts, of Coolcashin, Gathabawn, Co Kilkenny, on his own behalf and on behalf of his wife Lil and Ms Roberts? twin sister Sarah, 32, and brothers Paul, 35, and Francis, 29.

The defendant was their neighbour and retired postman, John Bowden, 62, of Baleen, Gathabawn.

Through his legal team at the original hearing last month in Kilkenny, he admitted to and apologised for the abuse but denied Ms Roberts? death was linked to the abuse.

Her father said after the judgment: ?She was maliciously and viciously attacked by this creature and this is her victory and her triumph.?

The family were awarded costs. The ?25,395 in damages was the maximum amount allowed under the Civil Liability Act in a case where the death of someone is claim-ed to have been caused by the actions of another.

However, the family said money was never an issue in pursuing the case, as they just wanted justice.

Mr. Roberts urged other families in similar positions to take legal action. ?It?s hard to do it, and it?s a struggle, but it?s worth it, for the victim... for their memory and their legacy.?

Martin O?Carroll, the family?s solicitor, said the court?s decision was ?unprecedented? and marked an important day for abuse victims and their families.

?It?s a case where the judiciary now recognises that a psychiatric injury can be as fatal as a physical injury,? he said.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 5:45 pm 
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?It?s a case where the judiciary now recognises that a psychiatric injury can be as fatal as a physical injury,? he said.


Its interesting how ?psychiatric injury? is used instead of ?emotional injury? and assault.

Thanks for sharing this Clare, amazing outcome.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:46 am 
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This article raised some more questions in me while reading it. There was an 8-year-old girl assaulted and sexually abused at a swimming pool. To me this sounds like it happened once. It's absolutely terrible that this girl was attacked like that, but her parents apparently believed her and probably acknowledged her pain. So why was there a long history of 'psychiatric illness' that followed 18 years, ending in the ultimate self-punishment: a suicide? The girl mist have been exposed to much more abuse then this attack. And if so, what were the roles of the parents then in this case? Is that the reason why the dad fought so hard to make it believe that it was all because of that dreadful day at a swimming pool. I don't understand why the parents called it 'a triumph for Jane, our daughter' and '... this is her victory and her triumph'. She died because she killed herself. What triumph is that?

Dennis

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:23 pm 
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Thank you Paul, for giving more background information about this 6 year old post. Your father fought a long battle. I'm not sure I would have had that patience if I had found out what was done to my daughter, if I had one. I would have taken justice into my own hands. I can see how such horrible experiences mark an 8-year-old girl for life, too scared to have talked about it, to have expressed her pain and her fears, and to split off to cope with it. Nevertheless, a psychiatrist will not admit that medical treatment may have led to a further disintegration of her emotional health. Bowden should have been thrown in jail. All we can hope for is to learn from this and to try to prevent such crimes from ever happening.

Dennis


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