By Brion Hoban, Isabel Hayes & Stephen Bourke
A father who sexually abused his daughter over a seven-and-a-half year period after first blackmailing her has been jailed for 17 years.
David Masterson (56), sent text messages under the guise of being another person to his daughter demanding that she engage in sexual acts with men. When the victim showed the messages to her father he told her that she would have to do these things because his job was at risk.
The Central Criminal Court heard that Masterson went on to defile three girls, having sexual encounters with two teenage girls and entering into a sexual relationship with a third, who lived with him for a period of time.
The court heard this occurred after his daughter reported the seven years of sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father to her mother in 2014 and he left the family home.
Masterson was already serving a seven-and-a-half year sentence at the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise for the defilement offences.
He has 17 previous convictions, including the defilement of a child and possession and distribution of child pornography.
Masterson, formerly of Tallaght in west Dublin, pleaded guilty to six offences relating to his daughter between 2007 and 2014 including oral rape, sexual assault and incest.
A further 25 counts, including 14 counts of incest and one count of possessing child pornography, were taken into account.
The court has heard that Charlene Masterson (32) wishes to waive her right to anonymity.
Mr Justice Michael White said today there had been a “fundamental breach oF trust” between a father and his only daughter.
He said Masterson had subjected her to degradation by his actions, and has “limited insight into his crimes”.
Justice White sentenced Masterson to 18 years in prison for each of the four counts of oral rape, suspending the final year and ordering one year of post-release supervision.
He also sentenced Masterson to five years imprisonment for two offences of sexual assault, running concurrently with his other sentences for an effective operative sentence of 18 years imprisonment with the final year suspended.
Justice White backdated the sentences to the day Masterson went into custody on these matters on June 26, 2019.
Speaking outside the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin this morning Ms Masterson said she was moving past the ordeal her father inflicted on her.
“No sentence will ever probably be enough but I do feel that the judge understood the control and the repercussions that occurred over the seven and a half years,” she said.
“I haven’t gone off the rails. It did destroy my life at one point but I’m determined it won’t determine the rest of my life. I’m not going to let it cling to the rest of my life now. It’s done,” she said.
“I hope I’m an example to anyone else out there that they can get to the other side of it and I know it’s a very very dark tunnel at times but there is light at the end of it,” Ms Masterson added.
The court previously heard that the abuse began when she was 18 years old in 2007, when she started receiving anonymous text messages, which later transpired to have been sent by her father.
The messages began demanding that she do sexual things with men while threatening to send information to her father’s work regarding her previously talking to boys on an online chatroom for teenagers.
When she told her father about what was happening, Masterson said she would have to do these things because his job was at risk.
It was arranged that her father would let a person into their home and she would do whatever this person wanted while wearing a blindfold and earphones playing music.
Masterson then came into the bedroom where she was blindfolded and began forcing her to give him oral sex and sexually assaulted her.
These incidents continued to occur before escalating to her having to engage sexually with two men while blindfolded. She believed she had no choice and that she was doing this to save her father’s job.
Ms Masterson did not realise her father was behind everything until, at the age of 21, she found a DVD recording of the first time she was sexually abused by her father while she was wearing a blindfold.
The abuse continued after she confronted her father about this and he claimed he was being blackmailed. Over seven-and-a-half years she was forced to have sex with her father and other men on numerous occasions, the court heard.
She had no sexual experience whatsoever prior to the beginning of the offending, the court heard. He also physically assaulted her and threatened to kill her on several occasions.
The abuse came to an end in June 2014 when she told a teacher what had happened and then informed her mother. Her mother had been “completely unaware” of what had been going on as it always took place while she was out of the house.
In interview with gardaí, Masterson admitted his daughter’s version of events were “100 per cent” true. He accepted that she had not done these things willingly, but because she thought his job was under threat.
Masterson accepted there were other men involved, but only told gardaí one of their names and claimed it was the only name he knew. He said this man had known that the victim was his daughter.
Masterson pleaded guilty to the oral rape and sexual assault of his daughter at the family home in Dublin on dates between April 1, 2007 and May 31, 2007. He pleaded guilty to the same offences at the same address on dates between November 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of having carnal knowledge of a female person who he knew to be his daughter, one count on a date unknown between April 1, 2007 and August 31 2007, and the second count on a date unknown between May 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014.
In her victim impact statement, which she previously read out in court, Ms Masterson said she was a 32-year-old survivor, not victim, of sexual abuse.
Ms Masterson said that growing up she always feared her father and that this fear will be with her always. She said she was defenceless and was “easy prey” for him and others “in his sick world”.
She said she was forced into doing a college course she did not want to do by her abuser. She said she had wanted to be a teacher or nurse, but he refused to let her pick these careers and she is now in a career she hates.
Ms Masterson said she had had a dream of being married and having children by the time she was 30, but she does not now feel like that will ever happen for her.
She said it was “like living with Patrick Bergin in the movie Sleeping with the Enemy”, but that she could not swim away like Julia Roberts did in the movie.
Ms Masterson said the fear of having a relationship was “daunting” due to threats. She said her abuser once threatened that if she moved in with a boy, he would find where they were and burn the place down.
She said that perhaps the only thing that prevented her getting STI’s were that he always wore condoms at her insistence. She said he once found it “hysterically amusing” when she feared she was pregnant due to her period being late.
Ms Masterson said she would have to strip the bed and clean up after the incidents. She said afterwards she would shower and “scrub herself raw” to try and cleanse herself, but she will never wash away the memories.
She said how easily he deceived others “baffled” her. She said she had to “reluctantly put on a front to mask the horror” of what was going on.
Ms Masterson said that she reached the point during the abuse that she felt the only way it was going to end was with him killing her or her killing herself.
She said telling gardaí about the experience was “horrendous” and that it was “a very painful and daunting, long process”. She said the embarrassment and shame of having to say these things out loud “made me crumble”.
Ms Masterson said she had two main goals today, which were to face her abuser and to deliver her statement herself. She said she hopes her experience helps one person to speak out.
She said the world will now know who he is and what he has done. She said she will not carry shame any more for what he has done.
After completing her statement, Justice White thanked her and said her “courage, tenacity and composure is an example to us all”.
In his plea of mitigation, Paul Carroll SC, defending, said that up until the age of 42, when the offending began, his client led a life that was “to all intents and purposes without blemish”.
Mr Carroll said the his client had progressed in his workplace up to the role of supervisor, had a home, a family and “matters seemed to be normal”.
Counsel said after the sexual abuse of his daughter came to light, Masterson “went off the rails” and engaged in sexual activity with underage girls. He has been in custody since 2017 for these offences and has agreed to take part in sexual offender therapy, the court heard.
Mr Carroll referred to a psychological report which found Masterson was psychologically vulnerable, had “chronic levels of low self-esteem” and had difficulties which “led him into a fantasy world via the internet”. He is at an average risk of re-offending, the court heard.
Masterson had difficulty appreciating the “power differential” between himself and his victims and had issues in relation to victim empathy, the court heard.