Judge Marian O'Leary asked if it was the first time they had met
AN AUDITOR working in a County Limerick business kissed an employee on the cheek and slapped her bottom, Kilmallock Court heard.
Frank O’Connell, aged 67, of Rathmacknee, Killinick, Wexford pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman, aged in her forties, at the company’s premises in south Limerick. It was the first time he had ever met her.
Tom Kiely, solicitor for O’Connell, said it is “hard for him to explain what he did” and “his good name is ruined”.
On April 25, 2016, Sergeant Michelle Leahy said O’Connell was performing an audit in the business premises where the injured party worked.
“He kissed her on the cheek. He slapped her on the bottom. He rubbed her bottom with his hand before moving up to the small of her back.
“She moved away. He attempted to kiss her again and left the office. She reported it to gardai,” said Sgt Leahy. The investigation was carried out by Garda Brendan Daly, of Bruff Garda Station.
In mitigation, Mr Kiely told Judge Marian O’Leary that O’Connell is a 67-year-old gentleman who comes before her with no previous convictions.
“He is married with two children in their thirties, both doing well. He is deeply ashamed of his actions, is deeply remorseful and wholeheartedly apologises to the victim. It is something he has wished to do for some time. In the immediate aftermath he was advised not to do so in Wexford, which he regrets,” said Mr Kiely.
Judge O’Leary asked was it the first time he met the woman?
“Yes, the first time,” said Mr Kiely.
The solicitor said O’Connell indicated a plea of guilty from the start.
“We asked for the victim impact statement to be prepared for today to cause as less stress as possible. He has being doing audits for over 40 years and has an exemplary record.
“He has worked in various different institutions and has had upto 40 staff under him. He dealt with staff on a daily basis and never has had any complaints made against him,” said Mr Kiely, who handed in a number of good references to the judge.
“He has never had disciplinary action taken against him. He has been involved with the local retirement club, social club and GAA club. He is very much an active participant in the local community and has done lots of voluntary work. He has done a lot in the community.
“That said he has to take responsibility. I am not seeking to minimise the effect this has had on the injured party - this incident has led to his retirement. He was self-employed, contracts were cancelled when they became aware of this. His family are aware of the allegations. This has caused great distress, including to his children. He is deeply ashamed and embarrassed. This is now common knowledge and has affected his role in the community,” said Mr Kiely.
It is hard for him to explain what he did, he said.
“It is completely out of character, a complete aberration. I am not seeking to justify it any way - it is sad that a man reached 67 with an unblemished record to be before you on such a serious matter. It has caused him significant stress.
“He is throwing himself at the mercy of the court. He has been punished from a local perspective - the embarrassment of it. His good name is ruined - it is difficult to mix in the same circles and the effect it has had on his employment and family,” said Mr Kiely.
Sgt Leahy said the victim impact statement shows how O’Connell’s actions affected the injured party.
Judge O’Leary, who ordered reporting restrictions on the victim, said she had to take into account the injured party having no previous convictions. She asked the Probation Service to do a suitability report for 240 hours of community service in lieu of six months in jail. The case was adjourned for a month.