Alleged cult leader wins second appeal

·1-min read

An alleged cult leader twice jailed on child sexual charges has won a second appeal against his conviction.

In a judgment on Thursday, the Court of Appeal remitted the case of James Gino Salerno to the District Court for a new trial.

In October last year, Salerno, also referred to as Taipan, was found guilty on six counts of unlawful sexual intercourse.

The offending was alleged to have occurred during his leadership of a group with about 30 members which was based in the Adelaide Hills between about 2001 and 2008.

Its aim was to create what was described as the Ideal Human Environment where people lived together harmoniously and without conflict.

On the prosecution case, members were ranked and also pooled their financial resources.

In its judgment, the appeal court said the alleged victim had been required to start "serving" Taipan from age 13 with her duties including putting his clothes away, running him baths, cooking him food, making him coffee, doing his nails, massaging him, brushing his hair and drying him.

It was after taking on this role that the alleged offending occurred.

However, Salerno's defence challenged the prosecution's description of the group dynamics at a fundamental level.

It argued Salerno was simply a senior figure in a large Italian family and was nothing more than a figurehead and adviser, and that the allegations against him had been fabricated.

Salerno advanced seven grounds in his latest appeal including whether the verdicts of guilty were unreasonable or could not be supported on the evidence.

But the appeal court ultimately dismissed all grounds except one, related to the incorrect admission of some documentary evidence.

It said the erroneous admission of the document constituted a miscarriage of justice.

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