27 July 2023

'You were never a father': man jailed for repeated sexual abuse of his daughter

| Albert McKnight
Court Coat of Arms

A man in his 40s, has been sentenced for spending over two years sexually abusing his own daughter. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to child abuse.

A young woman has confronted the “monster” who spent years sexually abusing and manipulating her as a child – her own father.

It is estimated she suffered sexual abuse at his hands every week for two years and four months over 2016 and 2018 while she was aged between 13 and 15.

This means he may have abused her around 120 times.

Court documents say he even told her that he considered her to be his girlfriend and said, “You can’t cheat on me”.

The abuse occurred when the daughter stayed at his home during parental visits.

She cried at times while it happened. When he wasn’t assaulting her, he would “treat her like garbage”.

The father, aged in his 40s, pleaded guilty to a charge of maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person before appearing in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday (25 July), where his daughter faced him.

“Today is the day I can stand here and say how I’m feeling without being manipulated or threatened by you,” she told him.

“You’ve ruined my life. The person who was meant to protect me from monsters my whole life became the monster, because of your sick agenda.

“You were never a father. You were never a role model. You weren’t even a good person – you are an abuser.”

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After the last incident of abuse in 2018, she told her mother she never wanted to see her father again and didn’t return to his house, but ran into him at a shopping centre about a year later.

“How can you leave me? You know I’m in love with you,” he told her.

“Because I hate you,” she replied.

She began to speak to her family about the abuse in 2021. When her mother found out, she called the father.

“Don’t worry. I won’t have you beaten like I’d like to. We’ll do this the legal way,” she assured him.

Afterwards, the father went to a police station and told officers that the molestation had been happening on and off for two or three years, but there was “no raping”.

During the conversation, he minimised the actions he’d ultimately plead guilty over.

“She was aware of what was happening and there were many times I tried to stop this entire situation by telling her this has to stop, this is not right, and then we would stop for maybe two or three weeks and then she would come forward and start again,” the abuser claimed to police.

On Tuesday, Justice David Mossop said the father had made substantial admissions when he went to police, but in some respects the admissions were less than what had been agreed in the statement of facts for the case.

The father’s lawyer, Edward Chen from Legal Aid, said his client was genuinely remorseful.

“He wants nothing more than to apologise to his daughter,” he said.

He also added that, “Despite being a horrendous father, he is a loyal and loving son.”

Prosecutor Trent Hickey described the daughter as “brave” and said the father’s offences were “abhorrent”.

“The impact of the offending on the victim and her family is profound,” he said.

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Justice Mossop said the offending was a gross abuse of the parental relationship and involved manipulation.

“He knew his conduct was wrong at the time,” Justice Mossop said.

The father was convicted and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years’ jail with a non-parole period of four years and two months, which means he is eligible to be released in September 2027.

He sat still and did not look at his daughter, who was sitting in the courtroom’s gallery, during his sentencing before guards led him off to jail.

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 on 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT on 6280 0900 and Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.

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