October 2018

Limerick man jailed for ten years for rape and ‘persistent sexual abuse’ of stepdaughter

A LIMERICK MAN has been sentenced to ten years for the rape and “persistent sexual abuse” of his stepdaughter over six years.

Michael Moloney, 40, of Sycamore Drive, Bruff, pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to eight counts of sexual abuse on dates between 2009 and 2015.

He was convicted last June by a jury on a charge of rape on a date between 1 June, 2010 and 31 August, 2010. He had pleaded not guilty to that charge.

His victim Jenni Prunty previously waived her right to anonymity to allow Moloney to be named in reporting of the case.

She said in a victim impact statement that Moloney damaged the trust she should have been able to have in her family, and that she now felt uncomfortable in the company of her own father.

Prunty also said her brothers could not look at her in the same way because they felt, as she was their baby sister, that they had let her down.

She said she resented her mother for bringing Moloney into their life, and said she had been left so “hurt and broken by him [Moloney]” that it was preventing her from having a proper relationship with her mother, whom she said she “loves to bits”.

Prunty said she now views all men with suspicion, and although she acknowledged it was irrational, she couln’t help feeling “unsafe in the company of men”.

She grieves for the childhood she didn’t have.

She disclosed the abuse to her mother in November 2015, who then immediately contacted the gardaí.

Moloney had already moved out of the family home at that stage, unrelated to the sexual abuse. 

When Moloney was arrested in December 2015, he initially denied any inappropriate behaviour and suggested the allegations were a punishment or revenge on him for leaving the family house.

In a subsequent garda interview he acknowledged he may have touched Prunty inappropriately while messing, referring to it as “harmless fun” and describing himself as “ a messer or a blackguard”.

He continued to deny rape and said he had kissed her in a friendly way.

He said he was “passing it off as sport” but then accepted he had been aroused by touching his stepdaughter.

Eventually, Moloney accepted that “whenever he got the opportunity to abuse Ms Prunty he did so”.

He told gardaí: “I am deeply sorry for my actions. I will get a bit of help and get it seen to.”

Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy described the victim impact statement as “eloquent”, and said the abuse was “a terrible burden for a young woman heading into adulthood”.

She said child sexual abuse “devastates families” and described Moloney’s behaviour as “persistent sexual abuse”.

Ms Justice Murphy noted that Moloney still maintains his innocence in relation to the rape charge, but ultimately admitted to gardaí that he had sexually abused his stepdaughter more than 15 times between the ages of 10 and 17 years old.

She accepted that his guilty pleas in relation to the sexual assaults were a relief to Prunty, and acknowledged his good employment history and lack of previous convictions.

Moloney is now in a new relationship and has a young child with that woman.

Referring to the rape offence, Ms Justice Murphy commented said “the acknowledgement of guilt validates the complainant and admissions offer the strongest evidence of remorse and potential for rehabilitation”.

Ms Justice Murphy sentenced Moloney to 10 years in prison for the rape offence and suspended the final two and half years of that term.

She also sentenced him to a concurrent term of seven years, with the final three and half years suspended for the sexual assault offences.