A MAN who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl while in a "sexual relationship" with the girl's underage sister will not serve any time in custody.
The 57-year-old South Australian man, who previously lived in northern Victoria, was on Friday sentenced in the County Court to a 27-month suspended prison term after pleading to charges of sexual penetration of a person aged between 10 and 16, and indecent assault of a person under 16.
The sentence means that the man will not go to jail as long as he does not reoffend in the next three years.
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Judge Scott Johns said while it was clear the man's crimes had a "far-reaching and significant impact" on his two victims, the delay and subsequent court orders meant the man could be released into the community.
The court heard the man was 21 years old when he started a "sexual relationship" with the first victim, a 14-year-old girl.
The girl lived in a dysfunctional household where there was family violence and alcohol-fuelled parties.
The girl's parents apparently approved of the "relationship" and allowed the girl to live with the man in his caravan.
The man was in a "sexual relationship" with the girl until she was 18. She fell pregnant while underage and gave birth to their son.
The pair separated when the boy was about six months old.
The court heard while the pair were still in a relationship, the girl's younger adopted sister stayed at their caravan.
When that girl was about 12 years old, she was sleeping on a trunk bed at the property when she woke to the man standing next to her.
Her underwear was pulled down and the man was sexually assaulting her. It was only when she screamed out for her sister that the man moved away and left the room.
The court heard she disclosed the sexual assault to a family member but there was no action taken.
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The victim later reported the incident to police in 1990 but again, there was nothing done.
The court heard many years later, when the second victim was about 30 years old, she reconnected with the offender and the two started a relationship.
She fell pregnant to the man and had his child before the relationship ended.
Judge Johns said it was clear the two victims had grown up in a "damaged and disadvantaged" home where the man preyed upon them.
"Their trauma is real and the impact on them has been severe," the judge said.
Judge Johns said while it was clear the man was an adult who offended against two children, he had also been a young man himself who was surrounded by dysfunctional adults.
The judge noted that in the past 10 years, the man had been convicted and jailed for other child abuse offences.
As part of those sentences, the man was placed on the sex offenders register and successfully completed offence-specific programs.
A psychological report submitted to the court noted the programs appeared to have been effective as the man had not reoffended.
Judge Johns accepted that was the case and the man had entered his guilty plea at an early stage, which saved the victims going through a trial.
The judge convicted and sentenced the man to a 27-month suspended prison sentence.
If he did not plead guilty, he would have been jailed for three years and six months, with a non-parole period of 18 months.
The man will be on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.
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