Former SA opera boss loses appeal

·2-min read

The former artistic director of the State Opera of South Australia, jailed for abusing two teenage girls while working as a singing teacher, has lost an appeal against his conviction.

Timothy Adrian Sexton was last year ordered to serve a non-parole period of eight years after being found guilty of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with two girls.

However, a jury acquitted him on multiple counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and indecent assault in relation to a third victim.

The offences were alleged to have occurred between 1989 and 1993.

In his appeal, Sexton argued various grounds, including errors by the trial judge in directions to the jury.

He also said it had been wrong to deny him separate trials in relation to the three alleged victims.

But in a judgment on Thursday, the Court of Appeal refused him permission to appeal on three grounds and dismissed four others.

In sentencing Sexton last July, District Court Judge Geraldine Davison said lengthy jail terms were appropriate given Sexton had not accepted the verdict of the jury and continued to deny any sexual offending.

"You are not remorseful for it and you, therefore, have no insight in relation to the impact of your behaviour on others," she said.

At trial, crown prosecutor Carmen Matteo said the girls developed strong feelings for their teacher.

"They were beguiled by the talented, handsome and charismatic Mr Sexton," she said.

"Each girl admired the accused musically and as a teacher and on the prosecution case, he would have known that.

"Each girl had a crush on him and on the prosecution case, he would have known that too."

Ms Matteo told the jury that a common thread through the accounts of the alleged victims was that they were willing participants in flirtatious conduct and ultimately sexual activity with the accused.

"Nevertheless, these were teenage girls under the age of legal consent. They were children and the accused was their teacher," she said.

Sexton spent several days in the witness box defending himself and denying the prosecution allegations.

Before resigning in 2017, he was also the state opera's chief executive.

He had been with the company since 2011 and was in charge of both its administration and artistic management.

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