Protesters to release balloons to show disgust
on 23/01/2013 00:00:00
The move came as thousands of people vented upset and anger on a Facebook page, "Justice for Fiona Doyle", and added their names to an online petition on activism.com. Many Twitter users also called for an end to len-iency for sex abusers.
Children's charity Cari added its voice to concerns about the case, saying it feared it could be "seriously damaging to public confidence in the legal system".
Chief executive Mary Flaherty said Ms Doyle had been "revictimised" by getting caught up in a dispute between the presiding judge, Mr Justice Paul Carney, and the Court of Criminal Appeal.
"The message sent out to today's abusers by this sentence for a man who pleaded guilty is one that puts children at risk. That this admitted abuser was sent out in to the community is shocking and indefensible," she said.
"We know that men who abuse usually abuse many children over a lifetime and we know from recent cases including Jimmy Savile that they go on to offend even into very old age."
The organisation called for an appeal hearing date to be set without delay, a call echoed by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, which urged the fast-tracking of the case through the Court of Criminal Appeal which ordinarily has a backlog running to many months.
"I truly hope we are not facing a situation where this convicted criminal remains outside of prison for months on end," said the centre's chief executive, Ellen O'Malley Dunlop.
She said she feared Ms Doyle's ordeal could deter other victims from coming forward but praised her bravery in waiving anonymity so she could highlight the difficulties facing abuse victims.
Three sisters who were similarly abused by their own father also hit out at the decision by Judge Carney to release Patrick O'Brien, saying it sent out "all the wong messages" to victims of abuse.
June, Joyce, and Paula Kavanagh, who run Healing Through Hope and Humour, said: "The message that victims will hear is that the judicial system neither understands the full impacts of abuse or values the fact that abusers need to be held accountable for their crimes."
June Kavanagh said Patrick O'Brien's age and ill-health should not have had a bearing on the case. "Perpetrators need to know that they will be held accountable for their actions no matter how long it takes to bring them to court. If we need to wheel them in on a stretcher to attend their hearing then that is what is required."
Andrew Madden, a survivor of sexual abuse and one of the first to bring the secret scourge of clerical child sex abuse into the open, also expressed his concern and sympathies for Ms Doyle.
Barrister and law lecturer Tom O'Malley, however, said it was important when commenting on the case to understand the conflicting demands on judges dealing with defendants like O'Brien whose crimes dated back several decades.
"The sentence has to be proportionate to the offence but also to the personal circumstances of the offender at the time of sentence," he said.
An esteemed religious counsellor in New York City's ultra-orthodox Jewish community was sentenced yesterday to 103 years in prison for molesting a girl who came to him with questions about her faith.
Nechemya Weberman was convicted in December of 59 counts, including sustained sexual abuse of a child, endangering the welfare of a child, and sexual abuse. He testified in his own defence, saying he "never, ever" abused the girl, and maintained his innocence at sentencing.
The girl's school had ordered her to see Weberman because she had been asking questions about her religion and was dressing immodestly in violation of customs, and he was to help her get back on the right path.
Weberman was not a licensed counsellor but spent decades working with couples and families in his community.
The accuser, now 18, had testified that Weberman abused her repeatedly behind his locked office door from the time she was 12 until she was 15.
Judge John Ingram praised the teen's courage, saying he also hoped it would set an example for other victims of sexual abuse.
"This message should go out to all victims of sexual abuse: Your cries will be heard. Justice will be done. You should report," the judge said.
- Colleen Long