June 2017

Woman speaks out against her abuser

A Donegal woman who was raped by her granduncle when she was 12 years old has chosen to waive her anonymity to ensure the public is aware of her attacker’s conviction when he is released after serving his seven-year sentence.

Michelle took the courageous step to come forward following the conviction of her granduncle, Hugh Baxter, 66, of 2 Cherryfield Walk, Hartstown, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, of five offences after a jury trial at the Central Criminal Court last April.

“I wanted to waive my anonymity because the way I look at it, I’ve done nothing wrong,” Michelle said recently, speaking to the Donegal Democrat in her Letterkenny home.

“Even seven years doesn’t add up for me, because he can be out walking the streets and nobody is going to know who this man is.

“Children need to be protected against someone like that,” she said. “And I feel if I didn’t name him, I’m still protecting him and I’m still hiding. And I don’t want to hide anymore because I’ve nothing to be ashamed about.”

She said she also wanted to tell her story, “to let other people know that regardless of what they had gone through, they can still stand up and have their voice heard, regardless of the time frame”.

Baxter had pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual assault between November 1992 and December 1994 and two counts of rape between June and September 1994 at locations in counties Donegal and Dublin.