Criminal Law News & Current Affairs
Alleged indecent assaults by former priest were ‘furtive, clandestine acts’, court told
An 85-year-old former priest has gone on trial in Canberra charged with molesting a young girl in the 1990s.
Edward Evans is facing six charges of committing acts of indecency against the girl, who was aged between 10 and 13 at the time.
Most of the incidents are alleged to have happened in Evans’s house, where the girl’s family would sometimes go after church.
Evans is alleged to have touched the girl inappropriately several times, including when he was sitting beside her at the dining table.
In another incident he is alleged to have pulled the girl on to his lap in a car, and committed an act of indecency while the pair waited for the girl’s mother.
The alleged victim did not tell anyone at the time, only telling her husband in 2004, and then much later her family when she finally went to police.
Prosecutor Sara Gul told the jury Evans was a trusted priest to a devout family and said he had sexually abused the girl over three or four years.
Ms Gul said the girl felt she could not complain because she did not want to upset her family.
“These sexual assaults were very furtive, but also very public, around other people,” she said.
“These were clandestine acts. Real flash in the pan stuff.”
Defence lawyer urges jury to put aside any preconceptions
Ms Gul also told the court there would be evidence that Evans did not deny touching the girl, but said it had been in a different context and that the girl had pursued him.
She urged the jury to consider when the car incident allegedly happened the girl was 13 and Evans was 67.
Evans’ barrister Steve Whybrow, instructed by Ben Aulich & Associates, told the court it was a case with emotive issues, in the current context.
He urged the jury to put aside any preconceptions.
“The fact there is now a royal commission on child abuse … does not in any way impact on this case,” he said.
“Take everything with a grain of salt at this stage.”
Mr Wybrow questioned the girl’s evidence, saying incidental touching was inevitable at times.
He also rejected a key issue of the prosecution case, saying there was nothing furtive or clandestine about the acts, given the woman claimed many of the things were done in front of other people.
Mr Wybrow told the jury “these are allegations brought by her nearly 20 years later”.
He said nobody could corroborate the allegations, and that the jury could expect the woman’s parents to say she was an affectionate child and they never saw him touch her.
Credit: Elizabeth Byrne, ABC News