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The Irish Times - Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Man claims wife used blackmail over divorce

A MAN has claimed before the High Court that charges of indecently assaulting his son were brought against him as part of an effort by his estranged wife to blackmail him into agreeing a divorce on terms favourable to her.

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denies all the charges and claims they arose at the instigation of his wife so as to give her a divorce on terms which he had refused to agree to.

The man is facing a number of charges, including 36 counts of indecently assaulting his son, then aged between five and 13 years, on dates between 1982 and 1990.

Yesterday, he secured leave from Mr Justice Michael Peart to bring judicial review proceedings aimed at prohibiting his trial.

His counsel Timothy O'Leary said the first complaint against his client was made to gardaí in February 2008.

The man and his wife had separated in 1990.

He had a good relationship with his children after the separation, counsel said.

His wife instigated divorce proceedings in 2006 after the man started a new relationship.

The man filed a defence and counterclaim in those proceedings, making claims for property adjustment and other financial orders.

He claimed his estranged wife runs a business which they had operated together before the separation.

In 2007, a solicitor representing the man had received a letter from his estranged wife which stated, if the man wanted "to keep his disability benefits and keep his full time job plus stay out of prison because of sexual abuse a letter must be sent to the Circuit Court and a copy to myself consenting to the divorce".

Counsel said the letter went on to state, if the letter consenting to divorce was not sent, the Department of Social Welfare would be informed and "a statement would be made to the gardaí about the sexual abuse."

The letter went on to say the man would need a lot of good advice or he would be "looking through prison bars for a long time", counsel added.

The man's solicitor wrote a reply denying the claims of abuse and advising the former wife that she was attempting to blackmail the man.

In a further letter, the man's estranged wife stated, if common sense prevailed, the divorce would go through on consent, the court heard.

It also said, because the man and his solicitor "think differently", the man faced "a bleak future because the can of worms he opened on himself smells rotten and don't forget ye were warned."

In July 2007, the man was telephoned by his son, the alleged injured party, who said the man should sign the divorce papers, counsel said.

The man was told, if he signed the papers, the son would not complain to the Garda and that he could continue to see his grandchildren.

After that, the complaints of abuse were formally made, counsel said.

The man's son then asked if he could meet with his father but the man turned down his son's request.

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