Kerry woman jailed for grooming teenage boy after confession to Jehovah’s Witness

Jehovah Witness congregation told of abuse of 14-year-old boy

Pamela Lonergan will serve a year in prison

Patrick O'Connell

This is the first image of the convicted child groomer who confessed to her Jehovah’s Witness congregation that she groomed a boy from the age of 14 before having sex with him two years later.

Perverted Pamela Lonergan, who went on to work in childcare settings and as a carer in the community, admitted four counts of defilement of a child under the age of 17.

The offences occurred at locations in Kerry and Cork in 2008 and 2009.

Appearing before Cork Circuit Court earlier this month, Lonergan of Treanmanagh, Glenbeigh, Co Kerry, received a one year jail sentence for the offences.

Speaking afterwards, one local said the community had been stunned to learn of Lonergan’s abuse.

He said another neighbour had met Lonergan on the road the week before the trial and she had told him she was moving up to Cork for a while.

“Obviously she thought her name wasn’t going to be disclosed in the media,” he said.

“If the victim hadn’t waived his anonymity to allow this happen, she’ have come back here when she got out and we’d have been none the wiser.”

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard Lonergan was 26 when she first started initiating contact with the minor, having met him in a social setting. When the victim first met Ms Lonergan, who is now 43, the relationship was “platonic” but “intense”.

The court head that the boy was often texted by Ms Lonergan when he was in school, leading him to become tired in class.

Det Sgt Kevin Long said Ms Lonergan was fully aware the boy was a minor when she groomed him. The boy was a virgin when they had sex when he was 16.

The defilement continued from that point.

Sexual relations only concluded when the man was 18 and moved to another continent.

Ms Lonergan told her religious congregation, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, of what had occurred and expressed remorse for her behaviour. She also apologised to the victim.

The expressions of contrition took place before there was ever a complaint made to gardai by the injured party.

The man reported the matter to gardai when he was in his late twenties.

Ms Lonergan was subsequently arrested for questioning about the suspected defilement of a child. She pleaded guilty to all four charges.

In his victim impact statement, the man said: “She entered my life as my family home was being torn apart. I was extremely vulnerable and lonely and even though Pamela’s messages felt unusual, the attention was appealing.

“She told me she wanted to be the person I had my first sexual experience with. It was early in the morning after an all-night phone conversation.”

The teenager had hoped to go to university, however, the abusive relationship took its toll, and he finished school at 16.

He said even when he moved to another continent for a fresh start, Lonergan arrived there to be with him, leading him back to “this caustic environment”.