RELATED COVERAGE: Convicted man tried to push mother and daughter apart
A 29 year-old Latrobe Valley man was sentenced to nine and a half years jail on Friday, after pleading guilty to six charges in relation to the sexual assault of four children.
The man, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of his victims, must serve a minimum of six years, minus the 252 days he has already spent in remand.
Latrobe Valley County Court heard his victims ranged in age from 11 to 15 years at the time of their abuse and were given cigarettes, alcohol and phone credit by the man who served as a father figure to each of them.
He had entered into relationships with two mothers of the victims, the court heard.
In handing down the sentence Judge Howard Mason described the offending over a number of years as “predative” and “grossly exploitative”, using “subtle seductions and abuse of power imbalance”.
The man was charged with two counts of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16, two counts of persistent sexual abuse, producing child pornography and an indecent act with a child under the age of 16.
He was arrested last year when his most recent victim’s mother found letters between him and her daughter that suggested the two had been having intercourse.
In early 2014 he had formed a relationship with the girl’s mother and then offered “respite” to the girl who had been fighting with her mother at the time.
However, the court heard it was later found the man had been deceiving the girl into thinking her mother did not want her to return home.
Police searched the man’s house, found the letters and seized a mobile phone and a computer, which was later revealed to contain video footage and an image of the girl.
Previous sexual abuse victims then reported their abuse to police.
The man formed a sexual relationship with the first victim’s mother, which the court heard “brought him closer and closer to her daughters”.
The court heard the first instance of sexual penetration of a minor occurred when he was left to care for the victim on her 11th birthday in 2006.
The man purchased a slab of alcohol which caused the 11 year-old to become intoxicated.
He then took her to her mother’s bedroom and had sexual intercourse with her. They then began a sexual relationship which continued for four years, resulting in the victim falling pregnant.
The first victim’s sister, who had known the man since she was seven years old and referred to him as her father or step-father, confided in him in 2012 when she was 13 that she was in love with a male friend and wanted to have sex with that friend.
The court heard the victim told him this because she trusted him, however the man suggested if she did trust him, she should lose her virginity to him first.
In late-2012 the man drove the victim to a bush reserve near the Morwell Golf Club where he began kissing and biting her neck and tried to put his hands inside her pants.
She pushed his hand away but continued to kiss him. They then entered into a sexual relationship which lasted until mid-2014.
The court heard in 2013 the man asked his victim to have a contraceptive rod inserted into her arm because sex would feel better for him.
In 2014 he offered the girl – who was clashing with her mother at the time – to live with him. She did so for three months.
In 2010, the man’s third victim, who was also a friend of the sisters and was living with them at the time, was taken to a school near her home where he rested his hand on her thigh for an extended period of time.
He then took her back to the residence and laid on top of her while exposing his penis.
He was caught by the mother of the sisters, and left the home shortly after.
During sentencing, the court heard the man had suffered sexual and physical abuse as a child while he was in state care.
The man is now a registered sex offender.