Alleged child abuser ‘never had the opportunity’

The Crown says "the devil is in the detail" of an 8-year-old’s description of the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of a Cromwell man tasked with taking care of her.

Earlier in the trial before Judge David Robinson in the Dunedin District Court this week, the 8-year-old girl told the jury the "bad guy" had touched her "private parts" on many occasions.

The man, who has interim name suppression, has pleaded not guilty to three charges of sexual contact with a child and claims the repetitive groping simply did not happen.

Counsel Brian Kilkelly summed up the defence case yesterday, saying the defendant "never had the opportunity" to indecently touch the child, despite her regularly being in his home for over a year.

The court heard that the man and his partner cared for the girl, buying her many things to ensure she felt comfortable at their home.

"Those were the actions of caring adults, not one adult and an abuser," Mr Kilkelly said.

Earlier this week, the girl’s parents gave evidence and Mr Kilkelly suggested the allegations were orchestrated by the complainant’s father.

He called him the "proverbial third wheel" who had become isolated from his daughter.

"The only disclosure of abuse to her mum came after [she] spent time with her dad," Mr Kilkelly said.

The girl’s father denied that was the case.

"She was scared of telling what had happened because she didn’t want her mother to have problems with [the defendant] as they were friends.

"The only thing I did was tell her we had to talk to the police too, to make justice."

Crown prosecutor Robin Bates said the girl’s disclosure of the alleged abuse "actually makes a lot of sense".

"The issue [the complainant] had was what was going to happen between her mother and her mother’s best friend.

"Even a child of this age can see there is going to be ramifications."

Mr Bates referenced the "considerable amount of research" provided to the court in the form of a psychologist report, that detailed the barriers to sexual assault disclosures.

"It is a common misconception that if someone is sexually assaulted they will tell someone straight away. That is totally incorrect.

"Calling out for help is the least-used self-protection strategy.

"The common place for offending is the offender’s home or the victim’s home ... The evidence says that’s where it happens the most."

When the girl gave evidence earlier this week, she told the jury she had tried to talk to the defendant’s partner about the abuse by saying the man was bothering her, but his partner said it never happened.

"Lies. She never told me anything."

Mr Bates said the girl had been consistent since she was 6 years old in describing the ways she was allegedly abused.

"The devil is in the detail," he said.

"She says ‘he touched me with both hands like a baby. I’m not a baby’ ... ‘He digged into my underwear and touched my real private parts’.

"Why would a young child who is creating a story come up with that comment?

"She is telling you what happened."

Mr Kilkelly said the girl’s evidence "just doesn’t stack up, can’t be relied on and certainly not to the standard of [beyond] reasonable doubt".

The jury retired to reach their verdict yesterday and will reconvene this morning.

erin.cox@odt.co.nz

 

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