O’Brien calls for immediate introduction of training for judges handling rape and sexual assault cases
Speaking following reports this weekend of a case where Justice Paul Carney had a woman who had alleged she was raped imprisoned during the trial, Sinn Fein Justice and Equality Spokesperson Deputy Jonathan O’Brien called on the Minister for Justice to immediately introduce a training regime for judges and legal practitioners in working with victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault.
The Cork North Central TD said;
“During this particular trial, the woman who had alleged she was raped by three men while pregnant was forced by Justice Carney to stand in front of each of the accused. This is highly unusual practice which had such a traumatic impact on the woman that she could not return to court the next day. Instead she overdosed on vodka and sleeping tablets.
“On hearing this, Justice Carney issued a warrant for her arrest. In an extraordinary act of insensitivity, this woman was taken in to custody and then held in the cells. Rape and sexual assault trials are difficult enough for complainants in ordinary circumstance, but the level of disregard for this woman’s mental state is astonishing.
“Sinn Fein has repeatedly called for sentencing guidelines and training to be introduced for judges as part of an effort to eradicate incidents such as this, which should not take place in any court. This case has highlighted the need for proper training for judges in handling rape and sexual assault trials. Judges should meet with the various victims groups to get an accurate picture of the true impact of rape and sexual assaults.
“This case will have sent out a terrible message to victims of sex crimes. The level of courage it takes to report a rape should not be underestimated and treating a woman who alleges rape as a criminal during a trial will not encourage other victims to come forward. The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter must address this gap in judicial training as a matter of urgency.”