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Teen alleges abuse by uncle during stay

A teenager should have been loved and cared for by family members tasked with looking after her. Instead she was sexually abused, a prosecutor alleged yesterday in Gisborne District Court

The abuse was frequent and serious, Crown prosecutor Michael Blaschke told a jury.

A man the girl referred to as an uncle went on trial yesterday after pleading not guilty to sexual violation by rape and nine charges of indecent assault.

He cannot be named due to automatic suppression that applies for complainants in sexual cases.

The defendant was in his 30s, the complainant 16, when the alleged offending is said to have happened about three years ago during most of five months that the girl was in her aunt and uncle's care.

His counsel Leighvi Maynard told the jury in an opening statement that while it was difficult not to feel immediately emotional hearing these types of allegations, there were two sides to this story.

Mr Maynard urged jurors to keep an open mind until they had heard all the evidence.

One of the indecency charges is for a single incident the complainant alleged was the man's first offence against her. He put his hands down her pants and rubbed her genitals, the complainant said. It ended when her stepfather arrived at the house to take her out for lunch.

Two other indecency charges and the rape allegation arise out of a single incident the complainant alleged was the last time the man offended against her.

She reported the abuse within a week of that incident during an appointment with a counsellor she was already seeing for other matters. The counsellor involved police.

The remaining indecency charges are all representative of multiple times the man allegedly touched her breasts, genitals or bottom — almost on a daily basis while she taking a bath or shower, sometimes while she was getting dressed in her bedroom, the complainant said in a police evidential DVD interview shown to the jury yesterday.

Sometimes he had also simulated sex by rubbing himself against her while clothed, the complainant said.

During the taped interview the complainant gave basic descriptions of the alleged indecencies.

When asked to elaborate on the rape allegation, she cried quietly. Several minutes silence followed before the interview was ended. The specialist interviewer was unable to raise any further conversation from the complainant, even on an unrelated topic.

After the DVD was played in evidence, the complainant, now 19, was questioned and cross-examined on aspects of it.

In response to questions from Mr Blaschke, she mostly reiterated her claims of three years earlier.

However, her answer when asked how often the offending in the shower happened was different from her previous claim it happened “almost daily”.

She now said it had happened “once or twice”.

In cross-examination, counsel Leighvi Maynard put it to the complainant she was content in her aunt and uncle's care until she started skipping school and lying about her whereabouts, which forced them to take a stricter approach with her.

She confirmed there was a time she went missing and police located her with a man more than double her age who she met online.

Mr Maynard put it to her that resulted in further disciplinary measures by her aunt and uncle, including her being grounded and her phone being taken away — things that upset her.

The complainant agreed but not with Mr Maynard's suggestion it meant she no longer wanted to live with the couple. That was “not necessarily” so, she said.

Mr Maynard put it to her the incidents she recalled as the first and last ones could not have happened as she was wrong about herself and the accused being alone at those times. Defence witnesses would confirm it.

The complainant refuted Mr Maynard's suggestion her aunt was home at the time of the first incident. The complainant said she could not remember other relatives turning up at that time, as was also claimed by the defence.

Asked if she accepted her uncle had stayed elsewhere the night of the last alleged incident, the complainant said, “I'm not sure”.

She “sort of” remembered an arrangement being made by her uncle for someone else to stay that night with her.