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In the Oamaru District Court yesterday, Ross Edgar Ewing (71), a retired farmer and former North Otago Federated Farmers president now living in Dunedin, was sentenced to nine months’ home detention after he earlier pleaded guilty to six charges — four of which were representative — of doing an indecent act with a girl aged between 12 and 16.
His offending took place between 2002 and 2004 at a rural North Otago property and started when the girl, the daughter of a couple he was close friends with, was 14.
A victim impact statement, read by the girl’s aunt, described the girl’s ordeal at the hands of Ewing, and his "sick, twisted desire to molest a young, teenage girl".
"I didn’t ever want to be abused sexually but I was, because of you.
"I went from being a confident girl with a bright outlook on life to struggling to get out of bed every day."
The abuse affected the girl’s schooling and she now had trust issues, the statement said.
"Because of you, I would cry in the privacy of my bedroom ... and pray that you would stop doing these things to me.
"The hate and anger I have for you is overwhelming."
A second statement read by the girl’s mother said Ewing had "betrayed" her family.
"I thought she was safe, but in fact I was sending her straight to the lion’s den."
She described Ewing as a "flaming mongrel".
Ewing showed little emotion as the sentence was handed down and did not glance at members of the victim’s family, who glared at him as he walked past the packed public gallery.
People gathered outside the courthouse after sentencing, waiting for Ewing to emerge.
However, he was escorted out a back entrance — a move some described as "gutless".
A police summary of facts said Ewing often asked the girl to help him on his farm.
He would give her gifts and compliments, hug her, and kiss her on the cheek.
He grew more bold over time and started kissing her, touching her breasts and genitals, and performed an indecent act on her.
Ewing’s offending was most brazen one evening between March and June 2004 when he, the victim, her father and several others went rabbit shooting on his farm.
At one point, under the cover of darkness, Ewing grabbed the girl’s hand and placed it on his crotch while she was seated next to her father in the farm vehicle the defendant was driving.
On an earlier occasion, when the pair were sitting in a tractor cab after feeding cattle, he unzipped her jeans and performed an indecent act on her, before dropping her home.
Other offending happened in a paddock and inside an outbuilding.
He pleaded with the girl to keep quiet, saying "not to tell your friends about us, they might take us the wrong way" and that the abuse was a "little secret and that if anyone found out we would be in so much trouble".
He was also ordered to pay the victim an emotional harm payment of $10,000.