GARDAi investigating claims that a fourteen-year-old girl was raped in the car park of a busy shopping centre last week are hoping to interview a number of young men about the incident in the coming days.
The rape is alleged to have happened in the back of a van which was parked in the car-park of the Crescent Shopping Centre in Dooradoyle during the late-afternoon of November 25.
Gardai have confirmed their investigations are at a “very advanced stage” and that specially trained officers have interviewed the alleged victim about her ordeal.
Because of the alleged victim’s age, garda procedure dictates that she is accompanied by her parents or another responsible adult during all interviews.
A friend of the young girl, who was also at the shopping centre on the day, has also made a statement to gardai, who did not receive a formal complaint about the incident until the following day.
The teenage victim, who is from Limerick city, was examined by doctors at a sexual assault unit in Cork following the alleged rape and investigating gardai have been furnished with a detailed medical report to assist them with their inquiries.
Detectives attached to Roxboro Road garda station have also viewed CCTV footage from the shopping centre in an effort to identify the movements of the young girl on the day.
A number of young men have been identified as part of the investigation and gardai hope to speak with them “in the near future” as part of their inquiries.
It is understood they are satisfied there was some contact between the victim and her alleged attacker earlier in the day but there is no suggestion that she was forced into the van.
While the girl may have gone to the van voluntarily, it is believed she was in a “distressed state” when she emerged from the vehicle a short time later.
Gardai have established that the suspected attacker - who is aged 17 - was in the van alone with her during the alleged incident and they are hoping to put certain matters to him when he is interviewed.
Investigating gardai are also looking to establish who owned the van in which the incident happened and if the young girl and her alleged attacker knew each other prior to last week.
Because of the age of the alleged victim, a garda spokesperson confirmed that even if she had consensual sex with the suspect, a criminal offence was still committed by the young man.
It is expected that once gardai complete their investigations, a file will be prepared and forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who will decide if charges are to be preferred.