A HUNTER pastor will spend at least three years in jail for indecently assaulting his three young granddaughters in what was a ‘‘gross abuse of trust and authority’’ that he sought to blame on the influence of the devil.
The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was sentenced in the Sydney District Court yesterday to a total of seven years imprisonment, but would be eligible for parole in May 2016. He previously pleaded guilty to 15 indecent assaults, which he committed over about seven weeks in late 2010.
The girls were each aged under 10, and were staying with their grandparents when the assaults occurred.
As the court heard details of the assaults, set out in a statement of agreed facts, the man sat with his head in his hands and at one point said ‘‘They’re lies’’.
During one offence, the man took one of his granddaughters into a caravan, pushed her onto a bed and began to touch her but she ‘‘kept whacking him’’ until he stopped.
On another occasion, he called one girl into his bedroom during the night and placed her hand on his genitals, as his wife slept in bed next to him.
The court heard he told one of the girls that ‘‘we don’t want grandma to know’’.
Judge John North said the pastor oscillated between acknowledging he should be held accountable, and blaming satanic influences.
His wife had told the court her husband received a blood transfusion while being treated for malaria on an overseas trip and she believed ‘‘there was something in that blood that wasn’t right’’.
Judge North took into account a victim impact statement from one of the girls, in which she said the abuse ‘‘completely destroyed her previous way of life’’ and she had bad dreams.
He said the statement demonstrated the ‘‘insidious nature of child sexual abuse’’, and the offences were a ‘‘gross abuse of trust and authority’’.
Judge North said the abuse appeared to be of opportunity rather than calculated grooming of the children, and was not prolonged.
But children in a family situation were ‘‘virtually helpless’’ against abuse by a family authority figure, as evidenced by the fact only one of the girls physically resisted.