‘Breach of trust’: Former foster dad jailed for abusing boy
A FORMER foster father who repeatedly indecently assaulted the boy who saw him as a "role model" has been jailed for a decade.
The 41-year-old Richmond Valley man, who cannot be named, had only recently come to care for the 11-year-old boy when the abuse began.
While the man maintains his innocence, a jury found him guilty of 11 offences earlier this year.
This included two counts of grooming, six counts of indecently assaulting a person under 16, committing an aggravated act of indecency, inciting a person under 16 to commit an act of indecency and aggravated sexual intercourse.
The man took notes as Judge Wells sentenced him for the offences, which took place in 2015 and 2016, before Lismore District Court on Tuesday.
The man and his wife became authorised to foster children under the auspice of the organisation CASPA in September 2014 but they had fostered children through other groups prior to this.
They were de-authorised in November 2016 due to an unrelated complaint and the victim did not report the abuse until later, the court heard.
After it came to light the offender was "making some steps toward" resuming care of the boy, he disclosed the abuse to his new foster parent.
The court heard the abuse "occurred pretty soon" after the boy moved into the man's home and was "ongoing whilst he was living there".
He later told police of "ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of the offender at the home they lived in", the court heard.
Judge Wells said it was clear "he saw the offender as his role model, someone he looked up to".
"He speculates that's why he held on to the secret for so long," she said.
Judge Wells said while the man maintained his innocence, she was not surprised by the jury's verdicts, given what she viewed as a strong prosecution case, based on the boy's testimony and text messages between the pair.
"I for one do not find it difficult at all to see how the verdicts were reached," she said.
"Apart from the acts themselves the most serious (element) is the breach of trust.
"Behaviour of this kind requires significant trust of a person who is not their parent.
"The system of fostering children also relies on the trust of those people who have fostered children in their care.
"This activity undermines that system."
Judge Wells sentenced the man to 10 years' prison and he will not be eligible for parole until May 14, 2025.