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NZ: Masterton child sex abuser jailed (Wellington)

Publish Date: 07 May 2011
Source: Wairarapa Times-Age
By: Seamus Boyer

Shock Revelation: Kenneth O'Reilly faces further sexual assault charges. Photo / Lynda Feringa

The victim in a historic child sex abuse case smiled through tears and hugged her parents as the Masterton man who abused her as a child was led away to prison.

Kenneth Robert O'Reilly, 66, was sentenced to two years in jail by Judge Bruce Davidson at Wellington District Court yesterday and ordered to pay $4000 to the victim in emotional harm reparations.

Last month he was found guilty of rubbing the genitals of a girl aged 6-8 through her clothing between 1982 and 1984, and touching the same victim on her genitals in 1987, when she was aged 11.

Yet as O'Reilly was being sentenced yesterday, startling revelations of further alleged sexual assaults emerged.

On Thursday, while on bail, the former railway signalman was arrested and appeared in Masterton District Court on five charges of indecent assault against a male between 2006-2008, and one charge each of sexual violation and attempted sexual violation against the same complainant.

He did not enter a plea and was remanded until May 26.

In sentencing yesterday Judge Davidson said O'Reilly had taken advantage of a position of trust as a family friend to prey on his young victim when she was in his home.

"To put it bluntly you must have been on the lookout for opportunities to arise," the judge said.

He said O'Reilly refused to acknowledge his actions and had shown no remorse.

He would not consider home detention in this instance as the serious nature of the second charge was "akin" to the modern charge of "sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection".

Further to the sentence he ordered O'Reilly to undergo a psychiatric assessment and counselling on his release from prison and barred him from contact with anyone under 16 without strict supervision.

Dressed in a dark checked shirt and jacket, O'Reilly remained impassive throughout proceedings and was led into custody without looking to the gallery.

His lawyer, Jock Blathwayt, said his client maintained his innocence and would be appealing the conviction.

Earlier the victim, now 35, spoke of how she was "robbed of her innocence" by the man she had trusted as a friend of her parents.

Crying, and supported by her mother, she told the court that the assaults against her had led her to regularly cut her arms and that she once attempted suicide.

"I cut so deep that my head was light and I felt that I was falling and I passed out," she said.

The trauma of what happened meant she had trouble trusting people and had not been able to become involved in intimate relationships as an adult.

She said what O'Reilly had done had cost her 16 years of her life, in which time she lived in and out of mental institutions and therapy.

"I saw you in my nightmares.

I would see you standing over me saying 'This was our secret'."

Speaking outside the court, the victim's father said his daughter could begin to get her life on track.

"Hopefully [the abuse] is a part of her life she can now forget."

He said the family had feared O'Reilly would be sentenced to home detention, but they were "over the moon" with the jail term.

Before sentencing Crown prosecutor Dale La Hood argued that home detention should not be considered as O'Reilly lived near the playing fields of Hadlow School.

But Mr Blathwayt said that fact was irrelevant as he had been assured by Hadlow principal Michael Mercer that since O'Reilly was bailed to his home in 2008 there had been no reports of any contact with students.

Officer in charge of the investigation Detective Sergeant Barry Bysouth said the case had been difficult due to its historic nature, but he was pleased with the result for the victim.

"Child abuse of any kind has long-term effects on its victims in any case, however, in this particular case the victim has borne the burden of her abuse for 30 years at the hands of Mr O'Reilly."

He said the investigation was part of the wider Operation Hope police response to child abuse in the region and said it should give other victims confidence that historic claims of abuse could be successfully prosecuted.

Copyright © APN News & Media Ltd 2011