4 April 2023

'Smashing my heart to pieces': survivor of teen sexual assault lashes her abuser

| Albert McKnight

Angus Miles Gottaas-Hughes (centre, in the white shirt) approaches court with his legal team, Kieran Ginges and Michael Kukulies-Smith. Photo: Albert McKnight.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to childhood sexual assault.

A child sex offender who filmed himself sexually assaulting an unconscious teenager stared straight ahead in court as she gave a heart-breaking description of the impact his actions had on her.

“Thank you for truly and utterly smashing my heart to pieces and condemning me to a lifetime of pain and suffering,” the survivor told Angus Miles Gottaas-Hughes at his sentencing hearing on Monday (3 April).

“I will never recover, but I will survive.”

She was visibly emotional while telling the ACT Supreme Court that she had a “horrible sinking feeling” when police called her to say she may be a witness in a major investigation.

“Nothing could have ever prepared me for what I was about to hear,” she said.

She was told she had been unconscious when Gottaas-Hughes had sexually assaulted her and he had used her to produce child abuse material by filming the 2020 attacks.

“I felt dirty, like every fibre in my body needed to be ripped out,” she said.

“This wasn’t my body any more. You stole that from me.”

She said while she has been told how strong she has been since learning of the abuse, she had just been on autopilot.

“I was truly broken,” she said.

“I was always just a toy for you to play with.”

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She was under 18 when he filmed himself sexually assaulting her on three occasions while she slept.

When police confronted Gottaas-Hughes with allegations they had found the videos on his phone, he originally lied and told them that he and the woman in the films were “friends with benefits”, and she had a “kink” for being touched while asleep, Crown prosecutor Morgan Howe told the court.

It was only afterwards that he gave police the survivor’s name.

Mr Howe said Gottaas-Hughes had also been found with child abuse material that showed no less than 200 children, and an expert had diagnosed him with paedophilia.

In a letter read to the court by his barrister, Kieran Ginges, Gottaas-Hughes wrote that what he had done to the survivor was degrading.

“The hurt I have caused you is unforgivable,” he said.

“I wish I had never done to you what I did.”

Angus Miles Gottaas-Hughes, pictured outside court in 2022. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Mr Ginges argued the “heart of this matter” was his client’s youth, as he had only been 18 for a few months when the assaults started and was “still an immature adult”.

“This is not a grooming case,” he argued.

“What it appears to be is opportunistic, when they are both drunk, she’s passed out, helpless.”

He argued that his client’s sexual immaturity and lack of sexual experience could explain why he took advantage of the woman.

He also argued his client’s psycho-sexual development didn’t develop beyond the hebephilia range, or an interest in girls aged 14 and 15, when he turned 18.

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Mr Ginges submitted that Justice Belinda Baker could sentence his client without utilising a custodial sentence, but Mr Howe argued full-time custody was required.

Justice Baker adjourned to sentence Gottaas-Hughes on 21 April and continued his bail.

In December 2022, the then-23-year-old had pleaded guilty to single counts of using a child for the production of child exploitation material, sexual intercourse without consent, possessing and accessing child abuse material and accessing child pornography, and two counts of committing an act of indecency without consent.

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