Galway writer will be jailed for teen sex assault if he doesn’t get help

A Ballinasloe-native writer faces jail next month unless he seeks help and accepts that sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy was wrong.

A court in Kerry this week heard that Desmond Hogan, who earlier pleaded guilty to the sexual assault in the bedroom of his chalet, is at risk of re-offending.

Probation officer Nora Brassil said he saw the incident as "a mutual sexual incident" or "relationship" as opposed to an offence. And she told Judge Carroll Moran at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee that it would be very hard to change his point of view.

Ms Brassil also said that, statistically speaking, Hogan was more likely to re-offend as he was a single male, and his offence was against a male.

"If the offender does not see what he did as harmful or wrong it increases the risk (of re-offending )", she said.

The court also heard garda evidence that Hogan had also been seen in a playground, showing children sketches of people in various stages of undress.

The 57-year-old, originally from Ballinasloe and with an international reputation, has been described as a reclusive figure by gardai.

The author has won the Hennessy literary award, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and the John Llewellyn prize since his first novel'The Ikon Maker in 1976.

Judge Moran said he would give a short adjournment until November 11 "on the strict condition" that Hogan did not associate with young males.

If the accused was not prepared to seek help for his problem, the judge said he would impose a prison sentence.

Hogan faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment. But he has no previous conviction and he had pleaded guilty so the maximum would be two years.

Earlier in the day, the judge said the case was a very difficult one for him, and adjourned it a number of times.

"He is 57 and he has no previous conviction," Judge Moran said, but he acknowledged the probation officer's report was of "enormous concern".

Senior Counsel for Hogan, Anthony Sammon, said Mr Hogan was prepared "to give a solemn undertaking" not to have any contact with male persons under the age of 17.

His problem was one of isolation but he could leave Kerry and make fundamental changes to his lifestyle, Mr Sammon said.

Mr Sammon also told the court the writer had been attacked since a previous court hearing in July.

But prosecuting counsel for the State, Tom Rice, said he was concerned about any perceived risk of re-offending and called garda evidence about another incident.

On June 5, gardai were called to a playground at 4.45pm at Ballymullen. Garda John Alfred said he observed Mr Hogan surrounded up to 30 children between the ages of six to their early teens.

Mr Hogan was showing a folder of drawings of people in various stages of undress. "I would not say they were pornographic," Garda Alfred said. He advised Hogan this was inappropriate behaviour and told him to leave the area.

Hogan, with an address at Back Lane, East End, Ballybunion, Co Kerry, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault with a child under the age of 17 under section three of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences ) Act 2006.

The incident happened on November 11, 2006, at Back Lane, when Hogan was showing three boys artistic sketches and etchings and various photographs of naked people.

The court was previously told that the assault took place when the injured party's friends left to go a local shop.

It began in the kitchen with the accused removing all the boy's clothes and then his own clothes, then moved to the bedroom of the accused.

In a victim impact statement the boy's mother said the family was completely devastated and "totally disgusted" by what had happened.

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