Foster carer in Bendigo court

A FOSTER carer allegedly indecently assaulted a child who was in his care, a court heard yesterday.

The 53-year-old central Victorian resident, who cannot be identified so as to protect the identity of the alleged victim, appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates Court yesterday to face a charge of committing an indecent act with a child under 16.

The court heard the man and his partner had looked after many at-risk children and adolescents over the years, and had taken in a 12-year-old girl in January last year.

The man was interviewed by police on June 6 and made admissions to the indecent act.

He told police he was “really sorry” and said “if it saves her later on in life then it’s worth the risk”.

Prosecuting, Senior Constable Mark Herman said the accused’s partner went out on May 19 and left the child in his care.

“The victim was seated on a chair perusing a recipe book and the accused sat on a chair next to her,” Senior Constable Herman said.

“He leant over to read the recipe book and placed one hand under it and touched the victim’s vagina over her clothing with his hand.”

The court heard the man started “rubbing his fingers back and forth”. Senior Constable Herman said the victim moved away and asked the accused to stop, which he did.

“He told her it was her body and no one could touch it,” Senior Constable Herman said.

“The accused then gave the victim a high five.”

Senior Constable Herman said the man told three other people what he had done and the child was removed from his care in the days that followed.

The matter was yesterday listed for a committal hearing and no plea has been entered.

The man’s defence lawyer explained her client was hard of hearing and made the effort to turn back and forth to him so he could lip-read what she was saying.

Magistrate Jennifer Tregent warned the accused there was a compelling case for the prosecution.

The court heard the matter had not resolved because of a factual dispute about what had actually happened, with the man claiming he only placed the back of his hand against the child’s pubic bone and not the other actions alleged by the prosecution.

Magistrate Tregent booked in the accused for a special mention on February 6. If it continues to a hearing it will be adjourned to April 4 and 5.

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