A STEPFATHER who indecently assaulted his 16-year-old daughter on a camping trip faced Bendigo Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
The man pleaded guilty to the assault which occurred in April, 2011.
The daughter, who is now an adult, fled the family home the following day to live with a female relative.
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The court was told the man had asked the girl during the assault if she would keep living with him if he "got rid of" her mother.
Police prosecutor senior constable Matthew Hendry said the man had tried to convince the girl to sleep in his tent but she had insisted on sleeping in her own.
The stepfather asked her graphic questions about her sexual activity through the walls of the tents that night.
The following day, while fishing, the man told her they should try some sex acts together and told her not to be scared.
The girl then pretended to urgently need to go to work and called her mother to collect her.
Mr Hendry said the girl had been scared by the comments and thought her stepfather had been trying to have sex with her. She fled before any touching could occur.
A defence lawyer for the man said he had no criminal record and should not be given a conviction.
"There's no touching," he said.
"Yes it's dirty talk and it's inappropriate and that's why he has pleaded guilty."
He told the court that his client had "kicked out" the mother soon afterwards.
"He caught the mother thieving from him and told her the relationship did not have a future because he could not trust her.
"The daughter went to move in with an aunt or other relative. He kicked the mother out of the house."
The woman told the court in her victim impact statement that she and her mother were not on speaking terms for a long time after the assault.
"My relationship with my mum was affected - she did not initially support me," she said.
"Recently my mum and I have reconnected and she has finally realised that I wasn't the liar. It's great that my mother and I can have some form of a relationship now but I can never get the time back.
"My relationship with my biological father was affected. I used to look up to my stepdad and see him as the role model and this greatly impacted the relationship with my dad, which has never recovered."
The woman said she was anxious about bumping into the accused while out in public.
"This anxiety extends to people connected to him like his friends and family even though I know they didn't do anything wrong," she said.
"I trusted my stepdad - I looked up to him. My ability to trust men has forever been affected by the way he acted towards me."
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Magistrate Russell Kelly said the victim had stood up for herself.
"It's a serious charge in the fact of the age difference between you and the complainant - she was only 16 - you were an adult male in a relationship with her mother at the time," he said.
"There was obviously a lot of psychological factors involved here impacting on all three people - it would seem to me - all those years ago.
"But in circumstances where you took advantage of a situation and put the complainant in fear that she was going to be indecently interfered with by yourself and she - to her credit - was able to resist that and stood up for herself which would have been very difficult."
Magistrate Kelly said the man's guilty plea was a sign of remorse and he had taken that into account.
"I will give you this one opportunity to escape a conviction," he said.
"You will be fined a total of $2000 without conviction, which will be referred to Fines Victoria."
For support call:
1800 RESPECT - 24-hour hotline, 1800 737 732
Centre for Non-Violence - 1800 884 292
Safe Steps - 24-hour hotline, 1800 015 188
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