A MAN who sexually assaulted a woman with learning difficulties at a swimming pool has been jailed for two years.
Gerard Keane, 61, of Swanley, Kent, 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.
However he was found guilty by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court and sentenced this week.
Keane, who had previously tried contacting the woman via social media, carried out the offences on May 1, 2018.
He initially approached the victim in a steam room, before following 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.
‘Vulnerabilities were clear’
Investigators said Keane had knowingly exploited a vulnerable person for his own gratification.
“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,” said Detective Sergeant Adam Ferguson.
“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..”
Keane has also been made subject of an indefinite restraining order and added to the sex offenders’ register.