Former teacher and Christian Brother jailed for child abuse
AN elderly former Far North school teacher and Christian Brother who taught children as young as six will spend six months behind bars for molesting his two nieces more than 40 years ago.
The 86-year-old, who cannot be named to protect the identities of his victims, was convicted of nine sexual assault-related charges in the Cairns District Court, committed during the 1970s against the two girls who were aged seven and eight when the offending began.
The two women, who are both in their early 50s now, read powerful victim impact statements to the court during the man's sentencing on Friday, telling of the long-term impacts of his abuse.
The court was told the women disclosed the abuse to family as teenagers but only reported it to authorities after the death of their mother last year.
One of the women said she was also prompted by the royal commission, which investigated the response to child sexual abuse within the church.
The court heard the abuse predominantly took place during family beach holidays in Brisbane. One of the women said she felt she had robbed her own children of their innocence because of her distrust of adults around them.
"I am angry, I was vehemently angry that I wasn't protected," she said.
"Sexual abuse of a child is horrid, but it's profoundly more sinister when it happens within a family.
"I thought I had a normal family. How could this be OK?
"Because of these matters I have no faith and I am cynical of the church."
The court heard the man claimed he had no memory of seven of the incidents, but admitted to two of them.
Crown prosecutor Nicole Friedewald said a psychologist who examined him described his apparent memory loss as "remarkable".
She said the man had told the psychologist the reason for his offending was due to him developing an attraction to a 10-year-old boy so he turned to girls to "fix it".
The other woman said he had continued to send their families Christmas cards each year "like nothing had ever happened".
She said as her father had died when she was young he had given her away at her wedding, which had been traumatic.
"I didn't want to have him give me away, but I didn't want to upset mum," she said.
"(Mum) felt responsible because she thought she should have known and stopped it. I don't think she ever got over it."
Judge Tracy Fantin sentenced him to two-and-a-half years jail with parole after six months.
He was sentenced based on the penalties at the time of the offending, not current jail terms.