865 allegations of sexual assault reported in 2017.
The annual report of the Sexual Assault Treatment Units (DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT HERE) outlines the activities of the six sexual assault treatment units across the country which provide help to alleged victims of sexual assault. The units in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Mullingar, Galway and Letterkenny saw an increase in victims last year - up to 865 compared to 712 in 2016.
Worryingly In nearly twenty percent of cases, the person presenting to the unit were unsure if a sexual assault had occurred.
It is reported that eight in ten of the alleged assaults happened between 8pm and 8am and the majority underwent forensic examination after being seen within three hours of the alleged attack.
A single assailant was involved In 91pc of cases and those presenting ranged in age from under 14 to more than 70 years of age.
Alcohol played a significant factor with some 370 admitting to have taken at least six standard drinks in the 12 hours prior to the attack only about thirty percent had not reported any alcohol. A further One in ten of the victims were concerned that they had been drugged against their will.
Although the vast majority of the complainants were women, 66 men presented to the service alleging that they had been sexually assaulted.
In the past year, a new system has been put in place which allows alleged victims who do not want to go to gardaí to store their evidence for a year, during which time they can think again about making a complaint. This particular practice will be of concern to defence lawyers, as although the prosecution will have the benefit of evidence stored on behalf of complainants, late reporting will certainly have the effect of denying those accused of sexual offences the ability to recover evidence which they may wish to rely upon including but not limited to CCTV, forensics and witness staments. It is reported that 79 individuals opted to securely store their forensic evidence in the sexual assault treatment unit for 12 months. Dr Maeve Eogan, medical director of the Dublin unit based in the Rotunda Hospital, admitted that some of the 79 victims who stored their evidence went on to make a report to gardaí, this delay in reporting will surely be controversial.
"Anything which encourages victims to delay reporting of sexual offences can only act to undermine the prosecution of these type of offences, with over twenty percent of complainants unsure whether or not they were even sexual assaulted, any delay in bringing such cases will have the obvious effect of compromising prosecution cases. Unsucessful prosecutions only act to deter legitimate complaints from being brought forward and as a result undermine efforts to promote the reporting of sexual offences in this jurisdiction." said Phelim O'Neill solicitor.
Phelim O'Neill solicitor specialises in the defence of sexual offences and offers free legal advice to client's accused of sexual offences including rape, statutory rape, Sexual assault, Aggravated sexual assault, Sexual offences relating to children, defliement of a child under the age of 15, defliement of a child under the age of 17, Reckless endangerment of children, Sexual Offences involving people with disabilities, incest and offences under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998. If you are concerned that somebody may have accused you of a sexual offence contact us immediately for confidential legal advice.