AN overseas student who repeatedly sexually abused a 13-year-old girl under the guise of a ‘‘marriage’’ performed in the Hunter Valley has pleaded guilty to the crime.
The 26-year-old Lebanese man, who cannot be named, was in Australia on a student visa when he ‘‘married’’ the girl during an Islamic ceremony in January. After the ceremony, he repeatedly sexually abused the girl until he was arrested earlier this year.
On Thursday, he pleaded guilty in the Burwood Local Court to a single charge of persistent sexual abuse of a child.
He is presently held at the Villawood detention centre and his student visa has been revoked.
The man had previously been charged with 26 separate counts of having sexual intercourse with a child aged under 14, but those counts were rolled into one.
Police allege the man befriended the girl when she was 12 while he was studying at the University of Newcastle. He later moved with her to a unit in Sydney’s south-west.
The girl’s father is also facing charges in relation to the case.
Child abuse squad detectives began an investigation after the man tried to obtain guardianship of the girl at Centrelink.
The Muslim cleric who conducted the ceremony pleaded guilty in April this year and was fined $500 and deported to Pakistan.
It is understood the victim met the offender through a local mosque.
The girl and her eight-year-old sister are being cared for by the Department of Family and Community Services.
The offender will return to court on October 17.