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Analysis: Tom Humphries social standing was an aggravating factor not a mitigating one

Former Irish Times sports journalist Tom Humphries, was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this week for abusing a child.

The description of Tom Humphries, the comments made by the sentencing judge and in various interviews by those who knew him, was one of a talented and respected man who you would be forgiven for thinking had an almost 'accidental' fall from grace.

That charming, well educated, middle class, white men, rape children is just too much for some to process, so claiming he is the exception rather than the rule is a far more palatable narrative.

It's also simply not true, sex offenders by their very nature are clever, manipulative and yes even publicly charming people.

During a tour of one of Northern Ireland's prisons a few years back, a teacher was explaining the very poor educational achievement level of most inmates, before adding that they also had a number of men sitting masters exams, all were sex offenders.

And so the men who commit these heinous crimes against children are not dirty old men in soiled raincoats standing in dark alleyways, which is a pity because they'd be much easier to convict if they were.

Read more: Joe Brolly defends former hurler who provided reference for child abuser Tom Humphries

Far from it, in fact, to gain access to children and the trust of society requires all of the characteristics the court was told Humphries possessed.

Sexual predators come in many forms and that includes sports coaches, clerics, teachers and even respected sports writers and media personalities.

That Humphries volunteered with the GAA, that he was an award winning sports writer should not have been accepted as mitigation but instead should have been seen as an aggravating factor that allowed him access to his young victim.

That his career is over is the fault of no one but himself. He groomed a young girl, barely an adolescent when he first met her, and raped her. He is a child predator, he is not a victim of circumstance and no amount of character references will change that.

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