6 September 2021

Family friend of young boy found guilty of sexually abusing him in 1980s

| Albert McKnight
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John Paul Garay

John Paul Garay, aged in his early 60s, leaves the ACT Courts on 31 August after being found guilty of child sex offences. Photo: Albert McKnight.

WARNING: Some readers may find this story distressing.

A young boy was forced to endure being sexually abused by a family friend in the 1980s, but the horrendous crimes of his abuser have finally been brought to light.

John Paul Garay, aged in his early 60s, was found guilty of numerous charges relating to the historical sexual abuse of a child after a judge-alone trial in the ACT Supreme Court in June 2021.

According to Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson’s judgement released on Friday (3 September), he had pleaded not guilty to all 18 charges, which were all alleged to have occurred in Canberra between 1986 and 1988 when the boy was aged between about 13 and 16.

He was found to have raped the boy twice and also molested him by grabbing his genitals.

His victim told police Garay was a family friend who he used to visit on school holidays.

Justice Loukas-Karlsson said the prosecution submitted that the victim was an emotionally vulnerable young boy desperate for a male role model.

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“As the complainant articulated, he was internally conflicted about his relationship with the accused,” she said.

“Whilst he disliked the sexual abuse, he had a friend who cared for him and looked after him and that this was the price the young complainant paid for adult attention.”

She said the victim was a highly credible witness, in contrast to Garay who was “not impressive”.

“He appeared, to me, to tailor his evidence in the trial in a manner that detracted from his credibility and reliability,” Justice Loukas-Karlsson said.

She found Garay guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse with a person aged between 10 and 16.

He had been charged with 16 counts of committing an act of indecency on a person aged between 10 and 16 and was found guilty of six of those counts.

After Justice Loukas-Karlsson announced her verdicts to the Supreme Court on 31 August, Crown prosecutor Skye Jerome asked for Garay’s bail to be refused and he be taken into custody.

However, Garay’s barrister Margaret Jones of Canberra Chambers asked for his bail to continue as he was a carer for his older brother and mother.

She said her client’s mother would have to go into full-time care if he was jailed, so asked for him to be able to go home and make the necessary arrangements for both the family members depending on him. He hadn’t been able to do so previously as the outcome of his case was unknown.

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Letters from the brother and mother were tendered to the court, and Ms Jerome changed her stance, saying there would be an “adverse effect” to Garay’s family members if bail was refused that day.

However, she also noted the seriousness of his crimes, being historical sexual offences against a child, the likelihood of a jail sentence and that the victim was concerned about his need for protection.

Justice Loukas-Karlsson continued bail. He will continue to live in Wanniassa, report weekly to the Tuggeranong Police Station and return to court for sentencing at a later date.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732.

Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency call 000.

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