Girl, aged 8, tells court ‘this is the real story’

A Cromwell man has denied indecently groping a friend’s 6-year-old daughter while she was in his care.

The complainant, who is now 8, described the alleged incidents for the jury in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, along with her mother and father.

The mother described how she forged a strong friendship with the defendant and his partner when the pair offered to take care of her daughter, becoming so close they were "like family".

The man, who has interim name suppression, is charged with three counts of sexual contact with a child and says the abuse simply did not happen.

Counsel Brian Kilkelly called the allegations "a mistaken complaint".

The defendant and his partner, who have children of their own, often looked after the girl while her mother was working.

"She loved staying with them ... They treated her like another daughter. They were the most similar to family we have," the girl’s mother said.

The only concern she had was when she found out her daughter had been sleeping in the defendant’s "matrimonial bed" on occasion - a bed that became the setting of the alleged abuse.

The woman said she noticed a shift in her daughter’s behaviour but believed she was being bullied at school, until late one evening she received a phone call from her ex-husband.

"She told me she didn’t want to go back to [the defendant’s] house and I started asking why," the father said.

"She told me that when she was in bed he would come and he would caress her, her back, her bum, her vagina, her legs ... After that I turned my phone on record without her knowing."

A transcript of that recording showed the young girl telling her father the abuse happened "when I am sleeping and I open my eyes at night".

The girl told the jury the defendant had touched her "private parts" on many occasions in many different beds.

"I thought he couldn’t reach me but he could and I hate that ... He reached his arm in and touched my private parts."

The child reportedly told her mother she "realised it was enough" when the man allegedly invited her into her bed to watch television and began indecently touching her while his family were in the other room.

Mr Kilkelly cross-examined the family and suggested the allegations arose from the father’s distrust of the defendant and his desire to have full custody of his daughter.

"[They] were buying [her] presents and treating her like their own. I suggest that was making you very angry," he told the complainant’s father.

"Why would I get mad if someone was treating my daughter well and buying her presents? That doesn’t make any sense," the father said.

Crown lawyer Robin Bates asked the child: "If someone told you that you had made this up so you can go and live with your father, what would you say?"

"I would say that is not true, this is the real story," she said.

The girl remained steadfast. "The only bad guy there was [the defendant]."

The trial before Judge David Robinson is set to continue today.