Landmark Judgment On Child Abuse

The parents of a woman who died by suicide have successfully sued a man who sexually abused her as a child.

A judge has ruled that the sexual abuse resulted in the woman’s suicide. The verdict, delivered in Clonmel this morning, is believed to be a landmark judgment.

Jane Roberts, 26, from Gathabawn, Co Kilkenny, took her own life in October 2000. She had been suffering from psychiatric illness and was receiving treatment during the 18 months before her death.

In 1999, she reported to gardaí that she had been sexually abused 18 years earlier by a neighbour, John Bowden, in the public swimming pool at Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Mr Bowden was arrested, he admitted the offence and a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. However, no prosecution was brought as she died a year later.

Her parents brought a civil action against Mr Bowden for the wrongful death of their daughter and today Judge Alice Doyle found in favour of the Roberts family, saying that Jane Roberts had suffered a personality disorder as a result of the sexual abuse and this in turn led to her suicide.

She awarded €25,000 to the family, which is the maximum amount under the civil liability act.

Mr Bowden was not in court for the judgment.