Babysitter tells of sex harassment

A TEENAGER who fell victim to a 47-year-old man's requests to take indecent photographs of her has told a court she suffered harassment from peers as a result of his behaviour.

The Clarence Valley girl was 14 at the time of the offences, which included the man pinching her nipple and asking her to remove her underpants before photographing up her dress.

The incidents happened while she was employed as a babysitter for the defendant.

The South Grafton man charged over the photo sessions was sentenced in Grafton Local Court yesterday after he was found guilty of inciting a person under 16 to commit an act of indecency and aggravated indecent assault of a victim under the age of 16.

The teenage victim stood in court to read her Victim Impact Statement. In it, she said the continued rumours about her had made life very difficult.

She told the court she had been harassed and humiliated by her peers, which eventually resulted in her leaving school.

The teenager cried when she spoke of the large number of friends she had lost over the photographs and her inability to trust people, despite once being a happy and open person.

She said the situation had stopped her from leaving the house for a long time.

The teenager did not look at the defendant, despite his presence just a few metres away.

The man, who is not named to protect the identity of the victim, was given a two-year suspended sentence after Magistrate Kim Pogson found the offending was at the lower end of the scale.

In his judgement, Mr Pogson said the court treated sexual crimes against children very seriously, particularly when the offender was in a position of power over the victim.

Also, he said there was an element of grooming involved and the defendant's not guilty plea showed a lack of contrition.

However, he said the defendant had no prior convictions and the offending was at the lower end, therefore a suspended sentence was appropriate.

The Director of Public Prosecutions did not object to a suspended sentence, but asked for the defendant to be supervised by probation and parole.

This was granted by the court.

The defendant was also fined a total of $1200 on four firearms offences. A hearing for a charge of drug possession will be held in Grafton on June 29.

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