A jury will begin considering its verdicts tomorrow (Subs: Thursday) in the case against a man accused of sexually molesting 10 teenage boys over a 30-year period in the North Island and Christchurch.
Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish will begin her summing up at 10am on the eighth day of the man’s trial on 26 charges of supplying cannabis, indecent assault, inducing the boys to perform indecent acts, and sexual violation including anal rape.
The charges refer to some alleged victims being aged under 16 at the time of offending the Crown alleges stretches from 1978 to 2008. The complainants were said to be aged from 13 to 17 when the offending occurred.
The 56-year-old man’s name is suppressed. He has worked as a teacher in the North Island and as a busker in Christchurch.
The Crown closed its case on Tuesday and the defence elected today not to call evidence itself, so the jury heard closing addresses by the Crown and defence.
The Crown says the victims have given truthful evidence that showed a “discernible pattern” of indecencies on adolescent boys. It denies any defence claim that the witnesses colluded and made up their allegations, or that the man was the victim of an “over-zealous” police investigator who planted ideas in the heads of vulnerable young men.
Crown prosecutor Deirdre Elsmore said the jury may have found some of the six days of evidence “difficult to listen to”.
The boys involved had been living in abandoned buildings, shoplifting for food, and seeking shelter from strangers. “It may have sounded more like life in Victorian England.” Some of them had chosen the streets as a lifestyle choice.
She spoke of the accused’s descent over the 30 years of alleged offending from sports cars, skiing and a well-appointed flat, to a doss-house in Christchurch.
The defence was that the sexual assaults had not happened as described, or at all. She acknowledged that the boys had not reacted in the way some people would expect after the alleged sexual attacks. Some had returned to the man’s house to drink and stay the night, days or months later.
But she said the jury should be careful about drawing any conclusions about any “right way” to react to sexual assaults.
She said the defence allegation of collusion and fabrication made no sense. It did not deal with the similarity of accounts between complainants who were completely unrelated in time and place. The man had helped these youths by providing a place to sleep, alcohol and drugs – repaying that “kindness” by making up false allegations made no sense.
Defence counsel Colin Eason urged the jury to be careful in accepting excuses about delays of months, years, or decades in the complainants making their allegations.
The Crown case was based around people telling stories of what they said happened. The jury was left with the job of assessing the calibre of witnesses telling stories “from some distance in the past”.
There were a lot of common factors among the Christchurch complainants. “There is hardly one who can say they have had a happy life, or were making a success of their life, or their teenage years were other than turbulent.”
He referred to witnesses giving evidence about being very drunk, getting money from the accused for sexual favours, and repeatedly going back to him afterwards.