If it wasn’t enough that the Irish Times printed what amounted to a Tom Humphries eulogy yesterday, today they included a colour piece on what life behind bars is like for a̶ ̶c̶o̶u̶n̶t̶r̶y̶ ̶s̶q̶u̶i̶r̶e̶ ̶w̶r̶o̶n̶g̶f̶u̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶a̶c̶c̶u̶, oh, hang on, that’s a man who groomed and sexually abused an underage child. Sure, they also printed an editorial about his betrayal of trust (they even titled it “A betrayal of trust”) but away from the editorial page, they’ve printed somewhat sympathetic articles two days in a row now.

Then there’s the length of his sentence. On this one, the judge’s hands are a little tied, as she has to pay attention both to the maximum sentence under the charge (5 years, as it happens) and similar sentences passed by other judges. I personally think the 2.5 year sentence for stealing a child’s innocence is rather short, especially as a woman was sentenced to four years today for stealing a million euros from her employer.

The judge stated that she gave some weight to the two character references she received (which personally I find rather odd when the subject of those references had been convicted of defiling a minor) and to the difficulty faced by a man who falls from a height of being a respected coach and journalist to being known as a child abuser. I have serious issues with that and here’s why:

If you are in a position of trust and you abuse that trust, you don’t get special treatment for losing the honour and respect you had because of attaining that trust. If anything, your betrayal of that trust, especially when it involves a child, is all the more monstrous because you took that trust and turned it into something that made it easier for you to abuse. Abuse, in this case, which was of a child. Child abuse. The man took the trust he had as a respected national sports journalist and then as a coach and used that as a tool for child abuse. In what universe does anyone turn around and say “well, you’ve suffered yourself because now those positions that you’ve had (which you used to further your child abuse) are closed to you”?

Oh, yeah, and on that… half the country is pretty damn sure that Tom Humphries has been ghost-writing Donal Óg Cusack’s newspaper column for the past few years (you’ll be aware, no doubt, that one of the two character references at the Humphries trial came from Cusack). It’s the sentences. The short sentences. Ever so short. Those sentences that say something, and then something else. It’s a style. That Tom Humphries style. The style that got him into coaching. Coaching children. Before he abused one of them. For which he got a short sentence.

We don’t eulogise child abusers. At least we certainly shouldn’t. I’m assuming – or at least hoping – that the paper that still claims to be our national paper of record will stop printing these soft feature pieces about its former sports colour writer who we all now know to be a groomer and child abuser. At least it fucking should.

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