Man acquitted of rape wins right to foster

Andi Yu

A NSW man acquitted of raping his stepdaughter for years has won the right to continue working with children and caring for his young foster son.

The man stood trial in 2008 over his stepdaughter's claims that he had sexually abused her during the 1990s from the ages of 11 to 16, but he was acquitted.

He had been cleared to work with children in 2010 and had been fostering a young boy since 2011, and providing temporary respite to other children.

When he reapplied for a Working With Children's Check in 2015, he was denied by the NSW Office of the Children's Guardian based on the past sex abuse allegations.

He applied for a review of the decision and on January 4, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal determined his alleged abuse of his stepdaughter "did not occur" and granted him the clearance.

The tribunal's judgment took into account the detailed allegations his stepdaughter had made.

In a statement to police in 2006, she said the abuse began when he asked her to massage or "play with me down there".

He often asked her to touch him under a blanket while her younger brothers watched TV in front of them, she claimed.

"I went underneath the blanket. I didn't question him. I just did it because he told me to," she stated.

"The blanket was quite heavy and I had trouble breathing under it."

At other times, he made her watch pornography with him, showed her his vibrator, and at times hit her with his fists or belt, she claimed.

The stepdaughter alleged the abuse quickly escalated to sexual intercourse but only happened when her mother was out playing bingo.

She claimed it became more brazen, to the point where it was happening even when her mother was home.

At the tribunal, the man denied ever having sexually assaulted his stepdaughter, and said that "engaging in sexual conduct of any kind with any child is the last thing on earth I would do and I find the idea sickening".

Asked whether he got his stepdaughter to touch his genitals, he told the tribunal: "I was lucky to get my own hands down there. How could she get hers down?"

He said the only time he ever remembered hitting her was when she stole lollies from a shop.

One of the man's biological sons told the tribunal he never saw anything to make him suspect his father was doing anything inappropriate with his sister.

The tribunal said the stepdaughter's evidence was "uncorroborated", a fundamental finding as to whether the conduct occurred.

While barred from the Working With Children's Check, the man had to move out of the home he shared with his partner and his foster son, which left him feeling "devastated".