A man who put his hands up his step-daughter’s nightie and tickled her breasts will have to report as a registered sex offender for the next 15 years.
The Bendigo man was looking after the girl, 12, and her three siblings while their mother was in hospital, when the incident occurred.
The man pleaded guilty in Bendigo Magistrates Court on Wednesday to committing an indecent act with a child under 16.
The court heard the man was lying on the couch in January this year when he invited the girl to give him a cuddle.
Police prosecutor Constable Martin Friend said the girl jumped onto his stomach and lay on her back while the man put his hands under her nightgown and tickled her breast area.
Const Friend said the girl later told police she felt uncomfortable during the interaction.
Lawyer Wayne Grogan told the court his client accepted responsibility for his actions and was eager to engage in rehabilitation.
Mr Grogan said the incident “started out as a playful act with a child”, but took a horrible turn.
But he argued it had not been planned, and was not part of any ongoing behaviour.
He also tendered several references and reports, including a psychiatric assessment which indicated his client had a low-risk of re-offending.
Magistrate Richard Wright condemned the man’s behaviour as a breach of trust which caused heartache and anguish for all involved.
“It’s clearly been devastating on the life of the children,” he said.
Mr Wright said while courts existed to punish offenders, magistrates were also required to consider rehabilitation when sentencing.
He said the man had good prospects of rehabilitation and imposed a 12-month community corrections order, requiring 200 hours of community work.
He also ordered the man to complete a sex offenders program and report as a registered sex offender for 15 years.