THREE brothers – two of them popular country music singers – charged with raping a young woman more than a dozen times have been acquitted on all charges against them.
usicians Aidan Taaffe and ‘Cowboy’ Larry Taaffe, along with third brother Michael Taaffe, were all accused of raping and sexually assaulting the woman on numerous occasions in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Between the three of them they were alleged to have raped the young woman 17 times and sexually assaulted her on nine occasions but a jury at Craigavon Crown Court cleared all three men after a three-week trial.
Dungannon musician Aidan Taaffe (62) told Sunday Life of the torment he and his family have been through since the three men were charged at the end of last year.
He said: “We went through a three week trial and were found not guilty, we were there every day and it was three weeks of hell.
“It was an entire year of hell before that from when we were charged and it was in the news. It was devastating, I find it difficult to even talk about.
“We had been due to start the trial in September but the barristers went on strike you see, then we got notice about it finally starting in October almost a year after we were charged.
“I would have done regular gigs and stuff for local charities as well but all that stopped for a while after the accusations were made public.
“I have a bad reputation on the back of it now too despite the fact we have been found not guilty, I decided to speak about this because I want to help us get back to normality.
“It’s been extremely difficult, I’m looking forward to moving on with my life but it’s going to be hard to do so it is.
“People assume you’re guilty because you were charged and in the newspapers, well it’s all concluded now and we’ve been acquitted.
“It’s been difficult for my brothers too, and my whole family, everybody has been affected by it.
“I’ve been on depression tablets from the start of the whole thing, it takes it’s toll on you.”
Aidan, of the Pomeroy Road in Dungannon, along with brother Michael Taaffe (57), of Meeting Terrace, Poyntzpass, Co Armagh, and ‘Cowboy’ Larry Taaffe (64), of Trinity Park, Magheralin, Co Down, were all acquitted at Craigavon Crown Court on October 24.
When asked why the complainant may have made the accusations against him and his brother’s Aidan said: “I have no idea, I wouldn’t have a clue or an idea, she took it to court and she lost it and that’s it.
“It’s been hell for everybody but thank God it’s over, I wouldn’t like to go through that again, people even stopped speaking to me.
“I still have the newspapers with the headlines in the house, 17 counts of rape and all that it says, there are people who no longer talk to me thanks to it.
“Everybody is devastated after all that we’ve been through and everything that was said about us.
“From the very start we voluntarily went to the police station and did everything we were asked to do and we didn’t hesitate doing that because we had nothing to hide.
“It’s been very hard and it will be difficult to get over but I would like everyone to know we’re innocent.”
Aidan Taaffe has released his own country music CDs and DVDs in the past. He regularly performed shows on Facebook Live during the pandemic and often interacts with his loyal fans on the social media platform.
‘Cowboy’ Larry, like brother Aidan, has released several albums over the years including The Gospel Way, Back In The Saddle and A Songbook And A Bible.
According to his Facebook profile he collaborated with Hugo Duncan on another of his albums entitled Saddles, Songs and Scenery for a track called The Bloom Off The Rose.
He also performed for Johnston’s Invincible Purple Star Loyal Orange Lodge 407 at Magheralin Church Hall in November last year and has over 2,700 fans on Facebook.
When contacted by Sunday Life about the case Cowboy Larry did not respond.
Michael Taaffe hung up the phone on our reporter when contacted about his acquittal having previously refused to comment on the court case.
A spokesman for the Public Prosecution Service said: “We recognise the courage and determination of the complainant throughout these proceedings.
“The evidence received in this case was subjected to a very thorough and careful examination by a team of experienced lawyers before we concluded that the Test for Prosecution was met, in line with our Code for Prosecutors.
“This meant that there was both sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction and it was in the public interest to prosecute and to place the evidence before a jury to make their determination. We note the outcome and respect the verdict that the jury have reached.”