Sexual assault of woman with learning difficulties
Gerard Keane committed the offences during a visit to a public swimming pool in Tonbridge, on 1 May 2018. Keane initially approached the victim in a steam room, before the 61-year-old then followed her into a shower area where he carried out the assault. Another visitor to the pool witnessed the offences and a support worker who had accompanied the victim was notified. Police were then alerted and Keane was arrested two days later at his home address in The Oaks, Swanley.
Keane appeared before Maidstone Crown Court, where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing or inciting a person with a mental disorder impeding choice to engage in sexual activity. He also denied a further charge of sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder impeding choice.
The case went to trial and Keane was convicted by a jury. On Thursday 12 August 2021, he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. He was also made subject of an indefinite restraining order and added to the sex offenders’ register.
Detective Sergeant Adam Ferguson said: ‘The victim has a number of learning difficulties, some of which can often affect how she is able to communicate, and which make her particularly vulnerable. There was also an element of grooming to this case, with evidence showing prior to the incident at the pool Keane had attempted to engage with the victim through social media. Her vulnerabilities would have been clear to Keane throughout any contact they may have had, yet he chose to exploit these for his own gratification.
‘It is telling that Keane was convicted unanimously by a jury, after less than an hour of deliberation. I hope this sentence sends a strong message to perpetrators that sexual abuse in any form will not be tolerated. No one should suffer in silence and we encourage all victims to come forward. We have dedicated teams who will rigorously investigate all reported offences and who treat victims with the utmost sensitivity and care.’