State pursuing lesser charges against men in connection with Christmas sexual assault allegations

The Limerick Circuit Court.

THE trial of two young men charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old schoolgirl after a Christmas party at a rugby club in Limerick ended abruptly today (Thursday) when two accused pleaded guilty to a lesser charge arising out of the alleged incident.

The two defendants, whose named cannot be published after the court imposed reporting restrictions, each pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally engaging in offensive conduct of a sexual nature on December 22, 2017.

In his opening address on Tuesday of this week, prosecution counsel John O’Sullivan BL told the jury that they would hear evidence that, after a Christmas party held at a rugby club in Limerick, the alleged victim went to the rear of the venue believing her friends were there.

Mr O’Sullivan said the alleged victim would give evidence that she encountered the two accused, who were also teenagers at the time, “and she will say they exposed their penises and asked her for oral sex”.

Mr O’Sullivan said on Tuesday that it would be alleged that the young woman and one of the two men began kissing and afterwards the two men began touching her in a sexual way without her consent.

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Today (Thursday), Mr O’Sullivan BL said the State accepted the two defendants’ guilty pleas to the lesser charge and that the State would be entering a nolle prosequi (no prosecution) in respect of the original sexual assault charge brought against both men.

The two men, now aged in their 20s, who were accompanied in court by family members, were remanded on continuing bail for sentencing on March 8.

Judge Dermot Sheehan directed the jury to find a third accused not guilty of a charge of one count of sexually assaulting the alleged victim at the same location on the same date.

The judge told the jury that the trial was proceeding against this man on a new charge that he intentionally engaged in offensive conduct of a sexual nature at the same location on the same date.

The man has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The jury has heard this man was allegedly in the company of the other two defendants and that he also allegedly asked the female for oral sex, and that he exposed his penis to her.

The jury has heard that Gardaí were contacted about the alleged incident two weeks afterwards, on January 12 2018, when the girl returned to school and reported it to a chaplain.

The alleged victim, who is now in her 20s, is expected to give evidence later today.