Inventing rape allegation denied

A teenage girl has denied inventing an allegation of rape because she wanted to outdo her sister in her sexual abuse claims against a man both girls have accused of molesting them.

''This isn't a competition. This is real life,'' the 15-year-old said yesterday in response to a suggestion she changed her story to include the rape allegation after her sister disclosed she too had been indecently touched by the same man.

The girl was being cross-examined by defence counsel Sarah Saunderson-Warner on the second day of the 65-year-old man's jury trial in the Dunedin District Court.

He denies six indecency charges - one of rape and four alleging sexual conduct with the first girl when she was under the age of 12, and one charge relating to alleged sexual conduct with the second girl, also under 12.

All the offending is alleged to have happened in houses in Dunedin and Arrowtown on various dates between late 2005 and early 2009. Evidence in the trial will be completed later today and Judge Michael Crosbie is expected to send the jury out to deliberate tomorrow.

Crown counsel Craig Power told the jurors on Tuesday the first girl disclosed the man's alleged offending against her after she had a conversation with a friend in which rape was mentioned.

The girl then spoke to her sister, who told her the man had also touched her indecently. Ms Saunderson-Warner yesterday challenged the first girl's version of events, suggesting she changed her story when talking to others because she knew she would be found out.

''No. What happened to me, happened,'' the girl said. To a suggestion the events were untrue, that the man had never touched her sexually at all, the girl responded: ''He did touch me, he did rape me''.

The girl also denied a suggestion her sexual abuse claims resulted from a desire for attention, that she saw two fellow pupils receiving much sympathy and attention from others because of problems from eating disorders. She was a friend of the two girls and was worried about them ''as any friend would be''.

But that was not why she spoke about what had happened to her, she said. She denied discussing the matter freely with a lot of people. She had talked only with people who were close to her. It was not a ploy to gain attention, she said.

The girl's teenage sister described an incident about four years ago, when she was 11 and the man woke her, took her to the room where he had been sleeping and started touching her indecently.

She asked what he was doing, pulled her pyjama pants back up and went back to bed. The man then got her sister out of bed and took her to the other room.

At that time, she did not know ''all that stuff'' was happening to her sister, the second girl said. Her sister was the first person she told about the night-time incident.

That was in April last year. The girl said she had not been sure what was happening because she was young, quite sheltered from sexual matters and ''really, really scared''. The man never said anything to her afterwards about what happened and acted like it was normal.

''And I said nothing.''

Auckland consultant psychologist Suzanne Blackwell told the court retrospective and child clinical studies showed delays in reporting child sexual abuse were common.

There were many reasons for that. Only a small percentage of perpetrators were strangers to the child victims and victims were more likely to report abuse by strangers than by people they knew, Dr Blackwell said.

She agreed with Ms Saunderson-Warner that the timing of a complaint did not assist in determining its credibility.


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