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My hell at hands of sex pest Ulster Museum chief

Victim speaks out about ordeal with disgraced former museum boss Sean Nolan

By Dave Whelan

Published 02/04/2015

Groped: Karen Harvey says former Ulster Museum boss made her life hell.
Groped: Karen Harvey says former Ulster Museum boss made her life hell.
Child abuser: Sex pest and former Ulster museum chief Sean Nolan. Pic: Pacemaker.

A creepy former Ulster Museum boss has been spared jail again after admitting attacking a second victim.

John Nolan, known as Sean, mingled with the great and good of Northern Ireland society prior to being convicted last year of sexually abusing a child.

Disgraced Nolan, 84, was back in court last week to receive his second suspended sentence within a year.

He pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a former catering manager at the museum.

His victim Karen Harvey waived her right to anonymity to tell Sunday Life of her ordeal at the hands of the groping pervert who molested her following a reception attended by Belfast City councillors.

Ms Harvey said the married museum boss made her life hell after she rejected his advances.

What made her anguish worse was that Nolan was regarded a pillar of society. He is also a former secretary of Ulster History Circle which erects blue plaques honouring people who have contributed to the province's history.

Last year, Nolan from plush Bladon Drive in the Malone area of Belfast, was convicted of abusing his niece Elizabeth Bamforth (below) when she was aged between seven and 15.

Ms Bamforth, a dentist living in England, waived her right to anonymity to voice her anger at her uncle who had got away with his crimes for 40 years.

It was after reading Ms Bamforth's interview with Sunday Life that Karen Harvey decided to tell the police how Nolan had also attacked her back in October 1988.

Courage: Dentist Elizabeth Bamforth who waived her right on anonymity to voice anger about childhood abuse at the hands of her uncle, Sean Nolan.
Courage: Dentist Elizabeth Bamforth who waived her right on anonymity to voice anger about childhood abuse at the hands of her uncle, Sean Nolan.

At Belfast Magistrates' Court last week Nolan received an eight month jail sentence suspended for two years for the attack on Ms Harvey and was ordered to pay her £1,000 compensation.

Karen Harvey, who worked in the museum for 29 years up until 2006, said that said on the morning of October 13, 1988, Nolan had been entertaining councillors around the launch of a Spanish Armada exhibition and had called down to have cups and plates removed from his room.

"All of the staff were busy so I went myself," explained Karen.

"As I was clearing he came behind me, put his hands on me and turned me round. He then continued to try and force his lips to mine and rubbing his hands all over me. He was a tall man and strong and I couldn't get him off me. It was only when another member of staff came towards the room calling out his name that he pushed me away from him."

Karen said that she felt could not speak out about the assault over fears for her job.

"He made life very difficult for me," she said. "I needed that job, I could not report it because I believed he had a ring of steel around him in that museum, he was an evil man."

Last year Nolan pleaded guilty to four sex offences including two of indecent assault and two of committing acts of gross indecency against his young niece between 1974 and 1984. He was spared jail because of ill-health. He received an 18 month jail term suspended for three years.

Online Editors

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