25 May 2021

Horse breeder found guilty of sexually assaulting young backpackers, acquitted of some charges

| Hannah Sparks
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Gregory Richard Douglas

Gregory Richard Douglas bred horses at a remote property in Peelwood, near Goulburn. Photo: Facebook.

A 68-year-old horse breeder has been found guilty of sexually assaulting five young female backpackers who were working for him on a remote property near Goulburn.

Gregory Richard Douglas, from Peelwood, faced five counts of sexual intercourse without consent, relating to digital penetration; six counts of sexually touching another person without consent; and four counts of assault with an act of indecency, between 2014 and 2019.

It was alleged he molested the women – aged between 18 and 27, from Germany, Japan and Australia – while performing massages he said were necessary because of the physical work they were doing.

Following a month-long trial and three days of deliberation in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court, on 24 May, a jury found Mr Douglas guilty of 13 counts.

The two counts he was acquitted of relate to the time one of the German backpackers visited the farm with a friend after she’d finished working there.

It was alleged he bought the 18-year-old women alcohol and sexually assaulted his former employee when she was substantially intoxicated.

During the trial, the court heard how the women would often ‘give in’ to the massages after Mr Douglas had persisted for days or weeks.

The girls often felt scared to say no because they were unable to call for help from the remote farm, and some were relying on Mr Douglas to sign the paperwork for their working holiday visas.

Mr Douglas would say the women had back problems, which he noticed from the way they walked.

He would then place a mattress on the living room floor and tell the women to remove their clothing so he could massage them with oil.

Mr Douglas never denied giving his workers massages but argued they were either non-sexual or consensual.

He even told the court how his relationship with the 18-year-old German backpacker was consensual.

He said the pair often gave each other massages during her first stay, in September 2016, and that their massages were better described as “foreplay”.

He described her testimony – which said all forms of sexual intercourse, including digital penetration and cunnilingus during massages, were assaults – as “rubbish”.

However, despite Mr Douglas being acquitted of sexually assaulting the woman during her return visit, he was found guilty of sexually assaulting her while she was working for him.

Mr Douglas was bail refused and will be sentenced on 30 June.

Original Article published by Hannah Sparks on About Regional.

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