Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill says receiving sexually explicit videos from a man filled her with a ‘cold sense of dread’

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A Fine Gael TD said a man’s decision to send her sexually explicit videos meant she was filled with a ‘cold sense of dread’ and concern for her safety during the 2020 election campaign.

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill took the stand to read her victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing of Gerard Culhane, 43, who sent her three sexually explicit videos and messages in the first months of 2020.

Culhane, 43, of Marian Place, Glin, Co Limerick, pleaded guilty in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to harassing the woman at unknown locations in the state on dates between January 13, 2020 and 26 March 2020. He has no previous convictions.

The court heard that during this time Culhane sent 13 TD messages, including three sexually explicit videos, which he later admitted to gardaí that he had downloaded from a pornography website.

Ms Carroll MacNeill said she was in the midst of a general election at the time and Culhane’s harassment was “extremely difficult to deal with”.

“I don’t want to be here,” the MP said before adding that “with every fiber of my being” she didn’t want to waste the time of the court, the gardaí or the director of public prosecutions. But because Culhane sent her “unsolicited footage…we all have to be here,” she said.

She said she would rather spend her time working more constructively in the Oireachtas, serving her constituents and spending time with her young son.



Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

“But because a man thought it was okay to invade my life, my mind and my sense of security because of the twisted goal he shot out of it, I have to use my time to pursue him,” a- she declared.

“I don’t choose to be sexualized in this way, to be in news articles with sexual content. But because a man decided to send me sexually explicit videos, they are there forever more than anything. the world can see. This is all without my consent,” Ms. Carroll MacNeill said.

She said she didn’t want to be “a victim”. “I’m a private person and I just don’t like it,” TD said, before adding that it was “anxious to downplay” the matter.

Ms Carroll MacNeill said at the time that she was concerned for her safety as she was in the middle of a general election in which the main focus is on getting out and meeting as many members of the general public as possible .

She said she was terribly scared when she received the messages and did not want to worry about her safety at that time. “We all needed to get down to business,” she said.

Ms Carroll MacNeill said she was on high alert and her team and close family were protecting her further.

“Nobody should have to get unsolicited sexual content. It touched me a lot in the process of
trying to get elected,” she continued.

“When you organize an election, the main objective is to physically meet people. I was scared for the first time.

She said there was “a real real risk” for her. “I felt it, and I couldn’t see it.”



Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

She felt like she didn’t know where the threat was, or what its nature was. “Was the person away from me, crossing the road towards me. What were they going to do? Was I going to be attacked?

She said at the time that she had “a cold sense of dread” and spoke of a reluctance to smile, reach out and engage.

“But in my mind, whether rationally or not, that person, whoever it was, now had every chance of just walking up and seeing me up close and being near me. And that terrified me. I just didn’t know where it would go and thought I couldn’t stand it,” TD continued.

She said Culhane’s impact sending her these messages had a wider effect on her family, husband, parents and sister and said ‘something of that nature’ may just ‘creep into your life. “walking with her husband and her dogs, having coffee with her mother or watching television with her son.

Judge Patricia Ryan adjourned the case for finalization until October 21, after acknowledging that a previously ordered probation report had not been prepared for the hearing. She said she did not want to adjourn the case but was reluctant to finalize the case without this report. Culhane was held on bail until October.

ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE

Detective Sergeant Rachael Kilpatrick told Pieter Le Vert BL, continuing that the posts came from a Facebook account in the name of a “Kevin Walsh” and involved three videos, one of which showed a man masturbating .

She said this video was sent to Ms Carroll MacNeill and accompanied by a wink, smiley face and love heart emoji.

She received another message that evening which was a thumbs up saying ‘Stay warm gorgeous’ with a second thumbs up. Another message read “Hi Jen, you will be the most beautiful TD in the Dáil in a few weeks”.

Later that evening, she received two more messages, one that read “I like your campaign poster, you look great in it” and another message that read “I need to take a hot bath” followed by a wink, thumbs up and love. heart emoji.

Another message was sent showing a man looking at himself in a mirror, suggestively pulling down his boxers.

Detective Sergeant Kilpatrick said Ms Carroll MacNeill woke up the next morning to find six more messages from the account. One was of a man, wearing pink underwear, masturbating, with a wink, a kiss, and a love heart emoji.

Another was a video in which a penis and hands could be seen, but Ms. Carroll MacNeill did not watch the rest of the video.

She also received a photo of herself taken at the 40ft in Dun Laoghaire with another politician, previously posted and attached to a message: ‘You look so sexy. What a beautiful body you have.

Detective Sergeant Kilpatrick agreed that Ms Carroll MacNeill had not replied to any of the messages she had received.

She contacted the gardaí to report what had happened and seek advice. The messages, photographs and videos were sent between January and March 2020.

A Garda investigation was launched in an attempt to establish Kevin Walsh’s identity and Culhane was eventually named as a suspect. A warrant was executed to search his home in Limerick in July 2020.

Detective Sergeant Kilpatrick said Culhane immediately admitted he knew why the gardaí were there. He handed over his phone and provided gardaí with his Facebook password.

He admitted to sending messages of male nudity and acknowledged that he had received no response to his messages. He said the videos and pictures were not his own, but he downloaded them from porn sites.

Det Sgt Kilpatrick agreed with Karl Monahan BL defending that Culhane, who lives in Limerick with his parents, has not come to the attention of Garda before or since.

She agreed that he expressed remorse, made a confession and apologized. He said it was ‘stupidity’ that made him do it, adding: ‘if I could take it back, I would’.

He had €1,000 in court to offer as a pledge of his remorse, which Ms Carroll MacNeill indicated she would like to donate to Aoibhneas Womens Refuge in Coolock, Dublin.

Mr Monahan said his client had been unemployed since 2004 and living on welfare benefits. He quit drinking in 2017 which led to him becoming socially isolated as he stopped meeting friends.

The lawyer said Culhane then enrolled in a computer course which taught him how to use the internet. He started communicating with others through Facebook and started conversations with people.

“Unfortunately, he then started contacting the complainant, as he was curious to see if he could engage with her,” Mr Monahan said. He said Culhane continued the communication as he had not been blocked and he hoped that at some point Ms Carroll MacNeill would respond.

“He was not in a happy place in his life at the time. He acknowledged the fear she would have felt and did not intend to cause distress or alarm,” Mr Monahan said.

The attorney said Culhane understood this was unacceptable behavior. He still has the support of his family, but the case has been embarrassing for him and his family, Mr Monahan said.

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