A martial arts teacher who sexually exploited, molested, groped and kissed three of his teenage students has been sentenced to four years in prison.
The 42-year-old Dublin man, whose name cannot be released to protect the identity of his victims, became “obsessed” with the three girls he trained and threatened to kick them out of the gym and out of fights strike out if they resisted his advances, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Monday.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of sexually exploiting three girls between the ages of 13 and 14 between September and October 2014.
The man was arrested shortly after the girls left for Gardaí but moved to the UK in 2016 before being charged with any offences.
While living in the UK he was convicted of a traffic offense and jailed. He was extradited to Ireland in September last year.
He has multiple convictions, including traffic offenses, property damage and theft.
Judge Martin Nolan sentenced the man Monday, saying the accused committed a gross breach of trust and manipulated the situation, molesting the girls and playing them off against one another.
“For whatever reason, he became obsessed with these three young girls and took advantage of their situation,” he said.
The children are “three innocent victims,” said the judge when imposing a four-year prison sentence.
Detective Garda Ronan O’Reilly told prosecutors Ger Small BL that the three victims were friends who all worked out together at the martial arts gym.
Over the course of two months, the teacher began sending all three children “scary” texts every day, commenting on their physical appearance and saying he’d like to have sex with them. He touched her thighs and kissed her when he brought her home.
The girls said the man would get angry if they didn’t respond to his messages and threatened to kick them out of the gym.
One girl said he repeatedly touched her privates through her clothing. He asked her if he could “take her virginity,” the court heard. He also got her to send him photos of herself in her underwear.
When the man was bringing the girls home from fights, he would pick a girl to drop off last and then kiss her in the car when it stopped at a stop light.
He repeatedly admonished another girl for “twitching” when he touched her and would get angry with her. He also kissed her in the car as he was driving her home, which she described as “very awkward.”
She was also afraid he would kick her out of the gym if she didn’t do what he wanted, the court heard.
The man told the third child he wanted to have a baby with her. The court heard that she was “afraid” that someone would find out about his advances.
She told gardaí that the man thought the three girls knew nothing about each other, but they knew he “admired” them all and texted them every night. He told her to delete the messages, saying he would be in serious trouble if someone else read them.
A victim’s statement was presented to the court but not read out.
Defense counsel James Dwyer SC submitted a psychological report to the court detailing the man’s background.
The court heard that he had a difficult childhood. He has several children with his wife, but this relationship fell apart when his insult came to light.
He had more children with another partner who wrote a letter to the court describing him as a great father.
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The man told the psychologist he felt “sick” about the sexual exploitation he was involved in. In a letter of apology he presented to the court, he said his behavior was “disgraceful” and added that he would never forgive himself.
The court heard he was sentenced to six years in prison in Britain and served three years before being released. He has been in custody since his extradition to Ireland last year.
Judge Nolan backdated the sentence to July of last year to reflect time served.
If you are affected by any of the issues addressed in this article you can call the 24 hour national rape crisis helpline on 1800-77 8888, access the text service and web chat options at drcc.ie/services/helpline/ or visit help in rape crisis. In an emergency, always dial 999/112.