Boy thought Santa would tell mum about sex abuse: Court

Three Far North Coast brothers have spoken about how their innocence had been stolen after their stepfather sexually assaulted them, a court has heard.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty by a jury in December 2020 on three counts of maintaining a sexual relationship with the three brothers, each aged between 10 and 14 at the time of the offending.

The offending against the three juvenile complainants occurred between 2017 and 2018 in the Tweed Shire, while the man was in a relationship with the boys' mother.

He repeatedly bribed his three stepsons with various treats and more time to play video games as a reward if he could have sexual intercourse with them, the court heard.

The man continued to maintain a sexual relationship with one of the boys up until his arrest in September 2018, despite moving out of the family home after the relationship between the two adults ended.

The three brothers told Lismore District Court they’ve stopped going to Surf life saving because they’re ashamed someone might know what happened to them.
The three brothers told Lismore District Court they’ve stopped going to Surf life saving because they’re ashamed someone might know what happened to them.

 

During the man's sentencing hearing in Lismore District Court on April 1, the boys' mother read out their victim impact statements on their behalf.

One brother said he felt constant shame for what happened to him, even when he didn't realise the full extent of what was occurring.

"One of the biggest impacts for me is that I don't feel I have a bright future anymore," he said.

"I didn't have a voice or choice in what he was doing to me.

"I find it so hard to trust adults and I worry if I trust them, they'll abuse me."

He told the court in his statement that he never spoke up initially because he had thought "Santa would have seen the abuse" and told his mum about it because she had said she was in constant communication with Santa and that he sees "everything".

Another brother told the court he feared he was now "broken" because of the sustained sexual abuse, and that his "innocence" had been taken from him.

"I am scared I am never going to be a normal person again," he said.

The third brother spoke of how he had to change schools, had trouble making friends and found it difficult to trust others.

"One of the biggest impacts that has happened to me is that I live in fear of what others will think of me and what they will say," he said.

"I hate having these worries because I don't know if they will ever go away."

All three boys spoke about how they feel like they can't form personal relationships with friends or adults for fear they'll be abused or made fun of because of what they've experienced.

They all have since stopped playing AFL and attending surf lifesaving, which each explained were passions in their lives.

One boy said the reason he stopped participating in sports was because he doesn't "feel safe in a male environment because of what (the offender) did".

Judge Jeffery McLennan thanked the boys for their statements.

"It's pretty obvious from their evidence they had no real conception about the extent of the wrongfulness of the conduct (the offender) was engaged in," Judge McLennan said.

"The extent of the corruption of these young boys, although it was of a (limited time) … was quite profound."

The court also heard from a friend of the man's, who gave evidence to his good character and how he had supported the perpetrator even after the conviction.

The man will be sentenced on April 30.

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.


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