Man denies abusing stepdaughters

A man has denied 17 child abuse charges and says he did not molest his two stepdaughters.

The man, who has interim name suppression, appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday before Judge David Robinson.

One of the complainants, who was between 7 and 14 years old at the time of the alleged offending, gave evidence yesterday once the jury finished watching her police interviews.

The woman, who is now 20, told police her stepfather had forced her to do sexual acts when he picked her up from school, and had repeatedly groped her.

In a police interview, the woman said her stepfather had repeatedly put his hand on her inner thigh, which she later clarified may have included her genital area.

Potential discrepancies in the complainant’s statements were probed by counsel Sarah Saunderson-Warner.

"It’s different to what you said back then," she said.

"What you are doing is making out to this jury that this was sexualised touching, when it wasn’t anything of the sort."

The woman said she had "blocked out a lot of things that are now coming to light" and she had matured significantly since her first disclosure of the alleged abuse.

In opening last week, prosecutor Craig Power outlined the Crown’s case, telling the jury about the detailed allegations of prolonged sexual abuse against the two complainants.

He told the jury the man had preyed on his two stepdaughters for about eight years, even burning one of them with a cigarette.

A picture of the alleged injury was provided to the jury, but Ms Saunderson-Warner said the wound could have been caused by anything.

"Are you a doctor?" she asked the complainant.

"You didn’t mention anything when you first talked to police, did you?"

Ms Saunderson-Warner suggested the woman’s mother had instructed her children to concoct the allegations in order to have full-time care of the girls.

"She had sowed the seed of being sexually abused by your stepfather ... you gave in to what she wanted," she said.

The complainant disagreed.

"I simply told her the truth after I was an inconsolable mess in front of my younger siblings," she said.

The trial is expected to last the remainder of the week and the complainant’s cross- examination will continue today. , PIJF court reporter