Five girls allege sexual assaults

Five women will give evidence alleging child sex abuse by a 51-year-old man who has gone on trial in the Christchurch District Court. The man faces 33 charges – many of them “representative” alleging repeated offending – in the eight day trial before Judge Alistair Garland and a jury. Judge Garland has suppressed the name of the man and the locations where the offending occurred. Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh told the jury the offending began with touching but moved on to other sexual acts involving oral sex, masturbation, and rape. The five girls are now teenagers or adults, but offending is alleged against them when they were aged from four to 14 years. The charges include indecent assaults, indecent acts, sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, and rape. The five alleged victims have given testimony in video interviews which will be played to the trial. They will also give evidence, some by video-link from outside the courtroom and others from behind a screen in the witness box. Mr Zarifeh told the jury the man had gone overseas for six years after changing his name and getting a passport after the police investigation began. He was returned to New Zealand after being convicted of possessing child exploitation material. The Crown will call evidence from 16 witnesses. Defence counsel Peter Kaye told the jury: “The issue is to be whether any of these acts of child indecency were done by this man.” He asked the jury to consider issues of truthfulness and reliability of witnesses as it heard the evidence. The trial is continuing.  

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