A disabled man sexually assaulted and exposed himself to a frightened schoolgirl on a Dublin bus after she helped him on with his wheelchair in an act of kindness.
James Callaghan (54) told the girl (18) she was “gorgeous” before touching her hip and trying to pull her towards him while his penis was out.
The “good-natured” victim, who had sat next to him at his request because she did not want to be rude, said she felt “violated” after the assault.
Callaghan, a former champion kickboxer who was left with catastrophic injuries after a road crash, had denied sexually assaulting the girl, claiming he was exposed because he needed to urinate due to his medical condition.
Finding him guilty, Judge David McHugh said he believed Callaghan was lying and his touching had been “sexual in nature and nothing else”.
The judge adjourned the case for a pre-sentence probation report.
Callaghan, of Decies Road, Ballyfermot, pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the girl on a Number 40 bus in west Dublin on February 1, 2016.
The victim told Blanchardstown District Court she saw Callaghan struggling to get on the vehicle so offered to help him and wheeled him to the disabled space.
He muttered and gestured for her to sit in the fold-down chair opposite so she did, thinking it was “harmless”.
They talked and it “started getting personal” as he asked her to go with him when he got off the bus. He also asked her if she had any hash or drugs on her and “kept telling her she was gorgeous”.
He kept moving closer to her and put his hand on her hip. She thought nothing of it at first because she thought he was trying to steady himself as the bus moved.
She began to feel uncomfortable and looked away before he again put his hand on her hip.
This time she tried to “scoot away” but noticed his hand was going “down on to my a**e”, she said. After a few minutes she noticed he was “messing with himself” where there was a belt for his wheelchair. She asked if he needed to go to the toilet and when he said he did, she told him there was a pub at the next stop.
“I noticed his d**k was out and at that stage I got frightened,” she said.
“His penis was in his hand, he was trying to get me to touch it, trying to put it towards me.”
She jumped up to tell the driver and said she wanted to get off the bus.
The victim told Oisin Clarke, defending, that she did not tell Callaghan to get his hand away because she thought he was trying to steady himself.
“He didn’t grope it but he got to the very top of my a**e and left his hand there for ages,” she said. “I felt so violated.”
She told Mr Clarke she felt Callaghan’s attempt towards her while his penis was out was deliberate and “very scary.”
“I felt like he tried to move closer to me to get me to touch it in some sort of way,” she said. “I felt horrible.”
The accused maintained he had incontinence problems and when he needed to urinate the only way he could stop was to “hold himself”.
In interview, Callaghan said he did not recall the incident and, when gardai asked him why the girl would make up allegations, he said he had been a “world champion street fighter” and the “only reason she would say something like this is if she was looking for money”.
“I think this is a load of c**p,” he added.
Callaghan said he may have moved with the motion of the bus but did not intend to do anything sexual. He did not remember putting his hand on the girl and “could not see himself” telling her she was gorgeous.
Callaghan admitted his penis was out, but said it was only because he needed to urinate.
Judge McHugh said he believed the girl’s evidence “100pc”.
Mr Clarke said Callaghan was injured in a horrific road accident when he was 29, in which a lorry ran over a car he was in and a friend died.
He had no similar previous convictions. Mr Clarke argued that Callaghan would suffer unduly if jailed.