An abuse victim of 29-year-old Keith Burke has called for a commission of investigation into why foster children were left placed in a Galway home after abuse claims were deemed "credible."
Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar has pledged that the recommendations made by an investigation into sexual abuse at a Co. Galway foster home will be acted upon.
On Tuesday evening, a victim waived her right to anonymity so that 29-year-old Keith Burke of Dunmore, Co. Galway, could be named as her abuser in an RTÉ Prime Time investigation. Burke was recently found guilty of the rape of three children placed in foster care in his parents home.
The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) has since apologized to Burke’s victims after it was revealed that foster children remained in his family home despite proven claims of sexual abuse by one of the young girls.
Rachel Barry was raped by Keith Burke when she was just nine years old, revealing the abuse to her biological mother when she was 11.
Tune in to @RTEOne tonight for #RTEInvestigates report as some of the women involved in a foster home abuse scandal in Co. Galway come forward to tell their horrific story. Fostered and Failed, 9.35pm on @RTE_PrimeTime pic.twitter.com/I4vZSmzemM— RTÉ (@rte) April 24, 2018
"He took my virginity away from me at 9 - it’s sickening because I can never get that back,” she told RTÉ.
"In my eyes I was dirty, in my body I was dirty so how could I expect anyone to treat me any other way but dirty. I feel strong but at the same time, I feel weak because I can’t even face normal things, everyday things.
"I don’t go out, I have no friends, I don’t do anything with my life, I can’t even go into town without feeling genuinely petrified, I’m nearly shaking like, it’s not a life, I’m doing the prison sentence."
Barry first went to the Galway foster home in 2005 for a weekend of respite care once a month. She said that while she was there, she became friends with another young girl “Amy” and that the then-teenage Burke abused both of them.
"Keith called ‘Amy’ upstairs and asked ‘Amy’ to ask me to go to the hut to play, the hut was in the back of the house, a set of bushes and then there was the hut,” she said.
"In the hut, there was a bed, there was a curtain around the bed, there were a shelf and two windows.
"Myself and ‘Amy’ in turns had to strip down with nothing only our socks on and while he had obviously done it to ‘Amy’ before, he called her over and I had to watch what was happening to her.”
The abuse continued over the next two years until 2007 when Barry confided in her mother.
"I was in the bath and I just started crying, I felt dirty, mainly dirty, in a bath do you know,” she recalled.
"I just remember going into my mother in a towel at 11 and saying what happened, I didn’t put a name on it because I didn’t know what it was and then to see her crumble in front of me and me carrying it for two years before that."
After undergoing medical tests, it was confirmed by the HSE that the abuse claims were “credible.” Barry also revealed that “Amy,” who had lived with the Burkes for a decade since she was six months old, was abused, but as the young girl did not speak about the abuse herself, “Amy” remained living with the family.
The HSE, which was in charge of child protection at the time, deemed that Burke should not be left alone with the children and he moved out of his parents' house but “Amy” and another foster child continued to live in the home. It was confirmed by Gardaí (Irish police) at his sentencing two weeks ago that Burke still had access to the children after he moved.
Three girls who were abused at a foster home in Co Galway are distraught at what they see as the lenient sentence given to their abuser. | https://t.co/Ygyf9GDzKG | #RTEinvestigates @RTE_PrimeTime 9.35pm @RTEOne pic.twitter.com/NCUEwR0Z53— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 24, 2018
“Amy” eventually confided in a teacher about her abuse in 2011 and the abuse of a third young girl, “Sarah,” was revealed. She had been placed in the foster home in 2000 and had also been raped by Burke for several years.
"My dad gets a phone call from a guard, I didn’t know what was going on, he said he wanted to speak with me, it’s got to do with ‘Amy,’” “Sarah,” told RTÉ.
"When I came off the phone I was all shook up, my dad knew there was something wrong so he asked me did this boy ever touch you or do anything to you and I broke down and told him and that was the first time I ever told anyone about it.
"I remember one time he had me, all my clothes off and he put me down on my stomach and he started having anal sex with me.
"I didn’t know what was happening - I just wanted it over.
"He just told me not to move or I’d be in trouble, he used to threaten me that he’d kill me... All I wanted was my dad."
'Questions remain in place and questions need to be answered' says @GrainiaLong after the HSE has apologised to three women for failings in the care they received between 2005 and 2007 after they were abused at a foster home in Galway.— Newstalk Breakfast (@BreakfastNT) April 25, 2018
While a new child care agency, Tulsa, has since overtaken responsibility for child protection in Ireland, a spokesperson for the HSE issued an apology.
"The HSE apologizes unreservedly to the three women for failings in the care they received while they were in foster care arranged by HSE’s Galway Community Care between 2005 and 2007,” the spokesperson said.
"While no apology can undo the harm inflicted on them, it is important that the HSE expresses a heartfelt apology at this time.
"All of the relevant historic files are with Tusla since 2014.
"The HSE has been in contact with Tusla in order to discuss how best to determine whether this case raises any concerns for HSE delivered services today."
National Child Abuse Hotline in the USA: 1-800-422-4453
Rape Crisis Center Ireland: 1800 77 88 88
Childline Ireland: 1800 66 66 66
H/T: RTÉ News