Victims confront Dunedin sex abuser

Two victims of sexual molestation as children have confronted their abuser in court, telling him of the damage his offending caused.

The two women, now in their mid-40s, both read victim impact statements at the sentencing of 69-year-old Dunedin man William John Olsen in the Dunedin District yesterday.

Olsen earlier pleaded guilty to five charges of sexual indecency against girls under 12 between 34 and 40 years ago.

He was sentenced to a total term of three years and four months' jail.

Four of the charges, two covering multiple offences, related to the older victim, while one charge, also representative, was from ongoing offending against the younger woman.

Olsen began indecently touching the older girl between 1973 and 1975 by putting his hand inside her pyjamas. She was aged between 8 and 10.

Offences occurred when she was bathing, and in a specific incident in 1976 or 1977 he told her to take her clothes off and made her perform an indecency on him.

The charge relating to the younger victim was from ongoing offending in 1978 and 1979 when the girl was between 10 and 12. He would regularly make some remark and squeeze her bottom as he walked past her.

Facing Olsen across the courtroom yesterday, the older of the two women told him he "should not be allowed to walk away" from the crimes he had committed.

She said she was about 5 and was very excited when he first came into their lives. He was kind to them and they had many happy times. But the relationship turned "sinister" from the first time he touched her, she said.

In her statement, the woman detailed the damage caused by the offending; her feelings of dread and fear, of deep and abiding shame, of betrayal and anger and of the disintegration of family relationships.

She said she had never confronted him in person about what he had done to her because she was afraid. She felt dirty and "odd" with her siblings and friends.

But when she tried to speak up at the age of about 11, things were "hushed up and brushed away".

Even when she met her husband, she could not confide in him because she wanted to perpetuate the myth of a happy family.

The younger victim said Olsen had been good to them financially but had cheated them out of the one thing a child needed - to feel safe.

"Even now, you are not man enough to hold up your hand for what you did", she told Olsen. But she felt very relieved to get "some acknowledgement of what you did".

She said she still felt very uncomfortable with men of Olsen's age.

Judge Kevin Phillips said the pre-sentence report said the defendant claimed he could not remember the circumstances of the offending.

He had made some non-specific admissions and had some counselling, but was assessed as a high risk person.

The judge said he took into account Olsen's bad health during the past two years after a stroke but said he had to be held accountable for what he had done. There had to be denunciation and deterrence, even for offences committed in the 1970s. The offending was very serious and the impact on the victims was clear.

Judge Phillips said the victim impact statements read by "two brave women" described in graphic terms the effects of the offending on them and showed they had never lost their feelings of fear and shame, of feeling totally embarrassed and scared and, above all, unsafe.

Taking into account the high degree of pre-meditation, the girl's vulnerability, the breach of trust involved and the 20 year age difference, the judge said three years' jail was appropriate on that charge.

He added concurrent 12 month terms for the other offending against the same victim and an additional nine months for the representative charge relating to the younger victim.

To give credit for his guilty plea and to acknowledge his age, health and previous good character, Judge Phillips reduced the four years and nine months by 30 per cent and sentenced Olsen to a total term of three years and four months.