Outrage Over Pol's Rape Defense

POLITICAL parties are considering drawing up guidelines for politicians when making representations on behalf of convicted sex offenders.The move follows a national outcry over the upset caused to two sisters when Labor Party TD (member of Parliament) Kathleen Lynch submitted a court reference testifying to the good name of the family of a man who raped them when they were aged 14 and 16.Trevor Casey, 31, from Fairhill, Co. Cork, was convicted last week on eight counts of raping and sexually assaulting the girls, sisters of his former girlfriend. He was jailed for 14 years.While the sisters expressed satisfaction at the punishment, they were furious that Lynch sent a letter to sentencing judge, Mr. Justice Patrick McCarthy, pointing out that the rapist came from a good family.Lynch later acknowledged that she had erred in writing the letter and apologized to the sisters for any hurt she caused them. Under Irish rape trial regulations the sisters' identity remains a secret unless they choose to surrender their anonymity, which they haven't done.But one, with back to camera, told TV3 how her psychological torment was compounded by Lynch's court intervention. The young woman is now 21. She was 16 when she was raped.She said she and her younger sister had suffered both physically and emotionally during and since the rapes, and she had several times attempted self-harm by cutting herself.She said her expectation that she and her sister would be supported by the wider community was dashed when details of Lynch's letter emerged at the sentencing hearing."It was a disgrace. I was hurt by it. It felt like she was supporting a convicted rapist when she should have been supporting me," said the victim.The sisters have decided to write to all party leaders in an effort to end the practice of politicians writing references for criminals.On Monday night they met with their local Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O'Brien who said he would work with them to draft the letter.Lynch has agreed that guidelines should be drawn up for all politicians on when it is appropriate to make representations on behalf of convicted criminals.She observed ruefully, "Politicians shouldn't get involved in these cases. But right now I am not in a position to be giving advice."

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