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A former teacher and judge, 59-year-old Gerard O’Brien misused his disability to sexually assault students
Coleman Legal LLP
June 04, 2024
Gerard O’Brien, a former judge and teacher, has been found guilty of attempted rape and eight counts of sexual assault, using his disability to manipulate and abuse students at CBC Monkstown in Dublin.

Gerard O’Brien found guilty of sexual assault and attempted rape

A former judge and teacher (59-year-old Gerard O’Brien) who misused his disability to sexually assault students has been found guilty of attempted rape and eight counts of sexual assault. Of his six victims, four had been students of his at CBC Monkstown in Dublin. The boys’ ages spanned between 17 to 24 years old at the time of the attacks, starting in 1991 and continuing until 1997, when one victim confided in his mother.

Gerard O’Brien, who was born with one leg and no arms, was found to have weaponised his disability to take advantage of the boys. Gerard O’Brien needed assistance to perform intimate tasks such as using the bathroom or getting changed and would have his victims help him with these tasks to get close to them.

Gerard O’Brien was also known to supply his students with alcohol, often waiting until his victims were under the influence to abuse them. This situation was only worsened by the culture of excessive drinking, which is alleged to have been an issue in the school at the time.

Gerard O’Brien, who maintained his innocence against all allegations, committed the offences between his late 20s and early 30s. Mr Justice Owens accused O’Brien of misusing his status and disability to gain the trust of students before attacking them when they had their guard down, often while they were asleep.

Despite Judge Owens pointing out that there was no justification for sleeping in the same bed as a student, O’Brien seemed to take no responsibility for his behaviour. Gerard O’Brien saw himself as the victim of manipulation in a situation without clear boundaries. The Court rejected this assertion, criticising O’Brien’s self-centred attitude.

The Judge acknowledged his clear record since leaving the school and his disabilities as mitigating considerations. Three of O’Brien’s victims shared statements for his sentencing hearing. One spoke of his experience of manipulation by an egocentric man, who got a sexual kick out of pushing the boundaries with his assaults.

The victims spoke of the long-term impacts of the abuse they suffered, one surviving a suicide attempt due to chronic anxiety, which he believes he will never fully overcome. One victim also questioned the school and whether it had failed in its duty to protect its students.

Following his dismissal from teaching, O’Brien had a very successful legal career, acting as a State solicitor at one point and then as a Circuit Court judge for nine years. He now faces a four-year prison term, with a year and nine months suspended.

Various parties have commended the victims for their courage in speaking up, with the CBC Monkstown board of management expressing their hope that this may help them move forward. They acknowledged the shocking and dark nature of the evidence in the case and emphasised the school’s regret that this had happened.

Detective Chief Superintendent of the Garda National Protective Services Unit, Colm Noonan, used the sentencing as an opportunity to encourage other victims of abuse to come forward, stating that “nobody is above the law and that nobody is immune from prosecution for sexual crimes.” He expressed admiration for O’Brien’s victims who he believes “will and have inspired others who might feel isolated or afraid.”

If you have been the victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse, please get in touch with Diane Treanor either by email or freephone us at 1800-844-104 for a Free Case Evaluation.

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Clodagh Magennis

Clodagh Magennis

Head of Client Services

F: 1800-844-104
E: [email protected]

”At Coleman Legal, excellence in customer care is paramount. We aim to meet both prospective and existing client’s needs professionally, engaging, and friendly with a clear objective to give quality legal advice and reach a positive outcome.”