A CENTRAL Victorian man accused of sexually assaulting his young step-daughter more than 50 times has been released on bail.
The 50-year-old man appeared in the Bendigo Magistrates' Court on Friday after he was charged with sexually penetrating a child under 16.
The court heard the man's step-daughter gave a video statement to Bendigo's Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team on Thursday.
Police alleged the man sexually assaulted the girl more than 50 times when the girl was between the ages of nine and 12.
In 2017 and 2018, the man allegedly sexually abused the girl on four separate occasions in the family home and in a shed.
Informant Detective Senior Constable Adam Woods told the court on one occasion, the man allegedly blindfolded the girl and assaulted her for about 10 minutes.
The girl was in pain during the alleged incident, Senior Detective Woods said.
The man also allegedly rubbed butter and oil on the girl's body and photographed her using his mobile phone.
He allegedly photographed her during most of the abuse.
Police alleged on several occasions, the man also placed a pillow on top of the girl's head during the sexual assault, which restricted her breathing.
Senior Detective Woods told the court police searched the man's property on Friday morning but were unable to locate a laptop they believe could help with the investigation.
The man did provide his mobile phone and passcode to officers when he was arrested. The informant told the court it could take some weeks to analyse the phone and potentially the laptop.
Senior Detective Woods said the man did not make any admissions during his record of police interview.
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Defence lawyer Karin Temperley told the court the man had a stable bail address with his father, although the father was unable to be contacted before the bail hearing.
Ms Temperley said the 50-year-old man had a limited criminal history and had previously not spent any time in custody.
The defence lawyer said the man denied the allegations and would be contesting the charges, so there could be a significant delay in the proceedings.
Ms Temperley said the man would consent to an intervention order without admissions so that could mitigate any risk of reoffending.
Prosecutor Senior Constable Abdoullah Fakhouri told the court the alleged offending was "elaborate" as the man had made efforts to conceal the abuse from his partner.
The prosecutor said police were concerned about the bail address because it was unclear if the man's father was aware of the charges or if there would be young children visiting the home.
Senior Constable Fakhouri also said the prosecution's case was strong given the detail of the alleged victim's evidence, so the man could serve further jail time if convicted.
Magistrate Alan Spillane said there was "no doubt" that the man would serve more time in prison if he was found guilty.
But the magistrate said he could not judge the strength of the prosecution's case because at this stage of the investigation, it was the girl's word against the man.
Mr Spillane said the 50-year-old had not made any admissions, which was significant, and he also had a stable address and employment.
The magistrate granted the man bail on the conditions that he reside at his father's address and comply with any intervention orders.
Mr Spillane warned the man that if his father refused to take him in, then he would likely return to jail because he was breaching his bail conditions.
The man was released from custody. He is due to return to the Bendigo Magistrates' Court in January.
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