Victim obliged to perform 128 sexual acts
A father-of-four who admitted sexually abusing and “prostituting” a child has been jailed for seven years.
John Lewis (52) of Foxborough Road, Lucan, Dublin, admitted to having sexual intercourse with the then 16-year-old girl on ten to 20 occasions. He told gardaí that he became the child's “master” while she was his “sub”.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the victim signed a “contract” which committed her to obey any instruction of Lewis “without hesitation or prejudice” and under which terms she was obliged to perform 128 different sexual acts.
Lewis lodged payments into a bank account for the victim which she received for engaging in sexual activity with other adult men. The court heard evidence of one occasion during which the victim was sexually abused by Lewis and four other men and another occasion where Lewis and others carried out a “rape role-play” with the child on a beach.
Lewis pleaded guilty to charges of defilement of a child and the sexual exploitation of a child at unknown locations in the state on October 12, 2018.
He also pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography at his address on October 18, 2018. He has two previous convictions for road traffic offences.
The court heard that the offending behaviour took place between February 2018 and October 2018 and other counts from within this period were taken into consideration in sentencing.
A local garda told Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, that in October 2018 the victim's mother noticed her daughter using a second mobile phone which she then confiscated.
Over the following days, while the phone was in the mother's possession, the phone received a large number of messages from Lewis which were “very controlling” and discussed her daughter having sex with a number of men and charging them money.
The woman confronted her daughter, who said she was in a relationship with a 50-year-old man whom she said she loved and who had saved her from self-harm. She told her mother she was aware that Lewis was married and that she believed this was an “open marriage”.
The victim told her mother she had had sex with other men and taken payments which Lewis had lodged into an account for her.
The court heard that the victim has never wanted anything to do with the investigation and it remains the case that she says she loves the accused and stands by him.
Lewis was the only person who ever contacted the victim's second mobile phone. Contact between them commenced around January 2018.
During a search of Lewis' address, he admitted to gardaí that he had met the victim on a website called Kik and that he knew she was underage. He admitted to having sexual intercourse with her on 10 to 20 occasions.
Lewis told gardaí he had become her “master” and that the child was his “sub”. He said he had arranged for her to have his initials tattooed on her body.
Gardaí also searched the man's car where they discovered a black leather studded dog-collar and two pages of a handwritten “contract” between Lewis and the victim.
This purported to be a formal contract between the two which bound them together “for the purposes of BDSM role-play”. This “contract” committed the child to obey any instruction of Lewis “without hesitation or prejudice”.
Other pages discovered in the car listed 128 sexual acts which were agreed to under the “contract”.
Five videos and 77 images of child pornography were found on Lewis' phone, all of which depicted the victim. The victim was depicted engaging in sexual acts with adult men and in various states of undress.
In three of the videos the victim could be seen wearing the dog-collar which gardaí discovered in Lewis' car.
The court heard Lewis was in contact with other men during the time of offending and these men were questioned by gardaí.
One man told gardaí that Lewis told him that he and two other men had engaged in a “rape role-play” with the victim on a beach and that they were nearly caught by gardaí.
A second man told gardaí he watched Lewis sexually abuse the victim on a beach after being invited by the accused. He said Lewis invited him to return a fortnight later with anyone who was interested in a “gang-bang”.
This man also told gardaí that he again met with Lewis and the victim. He said that on this occasion Lewis and four other men sexually abused the victim.
Ms Murphy said it was the prosecution's case that the victim had never engaged in this type of behaviour before she met Lewis.
The garda agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, that while the victim has not engaged with the investigation, his client had made immediate admissions “when gardaí knocked on his door”. She agreed there was no suggestion of violence in the production of the child pornography.
He said the offending had “shattered” the relationship his client had with his four children. He said his client had lost his job and would never again “attain standing in the community”.
Judge Martin Nolan said that the law was there to protect children from “predators” and other parties, but also to protect them from themselves. He said the victim could not consent to this behaviour and Lewis knew that and still commenced with his actions.
He said he thought “considerable harm” had been done to the victim by Lewis. He said Lewis knew he was breaking the law and must have known what he was doing was “deeply immoral”.
Judge Nolan said the mitigating factors included that Lewis immediately co-operated with the investigations when confronted. He said Lewis seemed to be “well capable of reform” and he had to believe the man would not reoffend to this degree in the future.
He sentenced Lewis to seven years imprisonment. He said he would not suspend any part of the sentence as he is hoping Lewis “will not need the help of a suspended sentence” to stop him re-offending in the future.
Judge Nolan asked Mr Bowman what he had to say about the defendant “essentially prostituting” the injured party.
Counsel replied that it was an offence for which his client takes responsibility. He said that if this was a relationship between two adults then it would be viewed “entirely differently”.
Mr Bowman said it was “an unusual dynamic” that the element of prostitution had at its core an intention of funding an apartment for the victim. He said this was distinct from a situation in which an adult is “essentially pimping” an underage girl.
Counsel said there was a “degree of sexual experimentation” present in the relationship his client had with wife and they both took part in having sex with people from other married couples. He said his client continued doing so after his wife decided to stop.
Mr Bowman said that how the relationship between the parties develops going forward is “beyond everyone's control”.