A young woman who was sexually assaulted by a man she considered a friend says she feels let down by the courts after he was handed a year-long probation order.
The 22-year-old from Co Armagh, who does not wish to be identified, was 16 when she was assaulted by Jakim Adour in March 2016.
Adour (23), whose address was given as Carricklongfield Road, Aughnacloy, appeared in court at Newry last Tuesday where he pleaded not guilty to sexual assault.
However, he was subsequently convicted after details of texts he had sent from his phone, were presented to the court.
Speaking to Armagh I this week, his victim described the impact the attack has had on her mental health, saying it led to an escalation in her self-harming and left her “terrified” of men.
She has also been seeing a counsellor for the past three years, which she pays for herself, to help her deal with what happened.
The woman recalls how, on the night of the assault, she and the defendant had both been in a bus coming home from a function.
“I was pretty drunk but he doesn’t drink so he was sober,” she said. “He was sitting behind me and I was messing about and trying to get his sweets off him…
“I wasn’t wearing a bra because my dress was backless and the next thing I knew his hand was over the seat and in my dress.
“I couldn’t say anything because I just froze. I don’t know how long it went on for. It was dark on the bus so noboby else could see what was going on.”
The then-teenager initially told no one what had happened but confided in her boyfriend a month later.
“My boyfriend messaged him…then he (Adour) messaged me as well and apologised. He wanted to meet me in person but I didn’t feel comfortable with that,” she said.
“I didn’t do very well in my exams in school that year, and I think what happened played a part.”
Initially, she didn’t report the assault as she feared she wouldn’t be believed, and still hasn’t told her parents what happened.
“The only people who know are a couple of close friends and my current boyfriend,” she said.
However, last May, after returning home from university, she went to the police.
“For ages after it happened, I was terrified of men,” she said. “Afterwards, I was in bad relationships because I didn’t know how to say ‘no’ but I do now.
“Going to the therapist has helped me with that. Ever since it happened I have really struggled with my mental health. I was self-harming a lot of the time, even up until last year.”
She also claimed she had never been told she could make a victim impact statement, which is taken into account when sentencing is imposed.
“It was stated during sentencing that I hadn’t submitted a victim impact statement but I was never asked,” she said. “And there was no mention in court of how it affected me.
“I don’t really feel I got justice from the court. I want to let people know what he did. Otherwise, he will think he has got away with it.”
While she was grateful to be be able to give evidence by video and remain anonymous, she still found the process stressful, as her attacker maintained his innocence throughout and the case was adjourned a number of times.
“You can be sent to jail for using weed or stealing something and yet he only gets a probation order for a year for what he did,” she said.
“I wanted him to be sent to jail or to at least have to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.
“But I am still glad I went ahead with it and I would do it again. Any job he applies to, he will have to specify he has a conviction.”
Despite what happened, the young woman is due to graduate this summer, having excelled in her degree.
Under the terms of the probation order, the defendant must participate in any programme of work recommended by his supervising officer.
He must reside at an approved address in Omagh, must not develop any personal relationships unless verifiable disclosure has been made, and must not approach or communicate directly or indirectly with the victim without the prior approval of the probation officer.