A MAN has admitted to repeatedly sexually assaulting a young girl in the Bendigo area.
The 31-year-old appeared in the County Court on Tuesday where he pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual penetration of a child under 16.
The court heard the man was 22 years old when he first met the young girl at an event in late 2011.
The man gave the girl alcohol, "flirted" with her, and they added each other on social media. In the following days, the man and girl messaged each other.
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The court heard in early 2012, the girl invited the man to her house in the Bendigo area.
The man arrived that afternoon while the girl was completing her homework. He sat next to the girl, put his arm around her shoulders, and kissed her.
The court heard the man proceeded to sexually assault the girl. During the incident, the girl was crying.
The man, who already had a girlfriend, saw the teen several times in the ensuing weeks but they did not speak to each other.
A couple of months later, the teen saw the man again.
The court heard the pair hid behind a building, where he kissed and sexually assaulted her.
The man continued to speak to the girl in the following months. In mid-2012, the man messaged the girl to ask if he could meet up with her.
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She agreed to sneak out of her home and he drove to pick her up. The court heard the man sexually abused the girl in the back seat of his car for more than an hour.
Later that year, the girl was at the man's house. The court heard the man moved the girl away from other people and sexually abused her again.
He told the girl he was worried his girlfriend knew about their encounters.
In early 2013, the man asked the girl to meet up with him. He sexually abused her again.
The next month, the girl told the man to come to her house while her family was out. The man arrived at the property and sexually assaulted the teen.
In mid-2013, the girl went to the man's home where he sexually abused her.
The girl took a pregnancy test a few weeks later, which came back positive. She did not tell any family members about her pregnancy and later had a miscarriage.
The court heard throughout that year, both the girl and man sent each other naked photos.
They continued to see each other until late 2016, when the girl stopped their encounters. The court heard she was depressed and suicidal.
The victim first made a statement to police in 2018 but decided not to proceed with the investigation. She made a second statement in mid-2019.
The man was arrested in January 2020. He made a no-comment interview to police.
In a statement read to the court, the victim said the offending was a "traumatic experience" that caused her "irreparable damage".
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The woman said the man "stole" her normal childhood and took away her innocence.
The victim said she started using alcohol at 17 to cope with the abuse. She said she was now a diagnosed alcoholic and suffered with depression.
Defence counsel Dermot Dann QC told the court his client acknowledged he committed very serious offences and that he had no intention to blame the victim.
Mr Dann said the man understood he would receive a jail sentence but asked the judge to consider a range of mitigating factors.
The defence counsel said his client was a man of "prior good character". He said the man ran his own business, contributed to the community, and had two young children from a long-term relationship.
Mr Dann said his client was worried about how his family would manage financially and emotionally while he was in prison.
The defence counsel said the judge should take into consideration the man's early guilty plea, his "excellent" prospects of rehabilitation, and his evidence of remorse.
But prosecutor Shivani Pillai said while the man's good rehabilitation prospects were conceded, the offending was "persistent" and "opportunistic".
Ms Pillai said the man took advantage of a young child and the girl's pregnancy was an aggravating feature.
The prosecutor said the court needed to denounce such offending and show it was important to protect children from exploitation.
Judge Michael Cahill said he was considering a prison term with a non-parole period.
The judge extended the man's bail to his next County Court date. He is due to return to court next week for a further plea hearing.
Editor's note: This story was updated on Wednesday, May 5 to correct the list of charges the man pleaded guilty to.
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