Foster carer to be sentenced over underage sex assault

Date: 2014-05-01

Foster carer to be sentenced over underage sex assault
KAREN MATTHEWS GEELONG ADVERTISER MAY 01, 2014 8:45AM 3

A GEELONG foster carer has fronted court charged with the repeated sexual assault of one of 70 vulnerable children placed in his care over a number of years.

The foster carer, who cannot be named due to a suppression order, pleaded guilty in Geelong Magistrates’ Court yesterday to 15 counts of committing an indecent act with a child under 16.

The offender was supported in court by his church minister, who spoke in glowing terms of how the man had helped organise mentoring programs for high school students and arranged youth camps for the church.

The police prosecutor, Sergeant Brooke Shears, said the victim was aged 12 when her foster father began cuddling up to her when he put her to bed.

Sgt Shears said the offending started with giving the child “kisses all over” and then became more exploitative.

Sgt Shears said that for years the offender repeatedly fondled the child, touched her intimately and committed indecent acts on her.

She said the offending was only discovered when the child spoke to her foster mother about what had been going on.

Sgt Shears said that when interviewed the offender had made full admissions and admitted it had been going on for some time.

A lawyer for the man said her client had been candid in his admissions, was remorseful of his actions and had undertaken counselling.

She said the offender had been a long-term foster parent and had about 70 children in his care over the years.

“On this occasion both DHS (Department of Human Services) and police attended his home,” she said.

“He is otherwise of good character.”

The lawyer submitted her client be placed on a community corrections order or suspended sentence, adding that jail would be detrimental to his treatment.

Sgt Shears said the charges were serious and at the higher end of the scale.

“They were aggravated by the age and vulnerability of the victim and the offending was committed by a person in a position of trust,” she said.

“It was also committed in a home where the child was entitled to feel safe and persisted over an extended period of time.

“The only suitable outcome is an immediate jail sentence.”

Magistrate Ann McGarvie is due to hand her sentence this morning.

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