Childhood sexual abuse allegations dating back up to 46 years are being put before a jury in a week-long trial in the High Court at Christchurch.
The jury was told by the Crown that it was “right and proper” that they should consider the effects of the passage of time on people’s ability to give evidence.
But Crown prosecutor Brent Stanaway told the jury that their common sense would tell them that memories of traumatic and dramatic events would be clear though “peripheral details may be a little hazy”.
Even the houses near Christchurch where the Crown alleges the abuse of two small girls took place have gone – victims of the 2010-11 earthquakes.
The man, now aged in his 60s, denied 15 charges at the start of a trial before Justice Cameron Mander and a jury. He pleaded not guilty to six charges of indecent assault, six of inducing or permitting a girl to do an indecent act on him, and three charges of rape. He has interim name suppression.
Defence counsel Andrew Bailey said the jury should understand that it was very difficult to be in the man’s position, trying to prove that something did not occur. The defence would try to prove that on his behalf, but it was always up to the Crown to prove the allegation.
When people made sexual allegations there was a natural inclination to believe them, he said.
“But unfortunately, as we all know, not everyone who goes to the police, goes with an honest or accurate versions of events,” Mr Bailey said.
The Crown alleges the abuse took place mainly against one girl from the age of about 5 to the age of 13, and against the other girl when she was aged nine or ten. The man was aged between 18 and 27 at the time.
Both girls alleged the man penetrated them with his finger while giving them piggyback rides, and one said there were later instances of touching, masturbation, and finally three instances of rape.
Mr Stanaway said the girls did know of each other, but there had been no collusion or contamination between the witnesses about their evidence.
He said one girl visited to the house because she was a lonely child and the household was “vibrant” with young children and pets. She was uncomfortable about what happened though she did not understand it.
The trial is expected to continue until Friday. The Crown is calling three witnesses.