The 39-year-old man and the girl had become “infatuated with each other”, the court heard. (ABC News: Joanna Menagh)
A West Australian volleyball coach who is facing a possible jail term for having sex with one of his 16-year-old players had no idea what he was doing was illegal, a Perth court has been told.
- The man had sex with the girl at his family home while she was under his authority
- They became “infatuated” as he coached her in a team and in individual sessions
- The court was told the girl appeared to have “genuine affection” for her coach
The 39-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, has pleaded guilty to 11 charges of engaging in sexual activity with the teenager while she was “under his care, supervision or authority”.
The District Court was told the man coached the girl as part of a team, but he also had individual sessions with her, for which he was paid by her family.
The offences occurred over a four-day period late last year, and some of them were committed at the home the man shared with his partner and two children.
The court heard the issue of consent was not an element of the offence, and the illegality of what the man did was because the girl was under his authority.
Defence lawyer Curt Hofmann described the situation as a “mutual consensual arrangement”, saying the two became “infatuated with each other” and it led to “a brief, albeit improper relationship”.
“My client had no idea it was against the law. Although this was a betrayal of his long-term partner, he did not know it was illegal,” he told the court.
“This all comes down to his level of authority … but for his position of authority we would not be here.”
Girl has ‘genuine affection’ for coach, court told
As the teenage victim watched proceedings from the public gallery, Mr Hofmann told the court the girl had been present at every one of his client’s court appearances and appeared to have “genuine affection” for him.
“My client says she is a lovely girl with whom he became infatuated … I suggest there is no grievance on her part, however the law says this a very serious offence,” he said.
State prosecutor Brianna Rositano argued the man should receive an immediate jail term, saying he had exploited the girl’s young age and vulnerability.
She said there was a significant age gap of 22 years between the two and the man had used his position to take advantage of the victim for his own sexual gratification.
“He seems more concerned for the consequences of the offending on himself and his family, rather than the impact it could have on the victim in the future,” Ms Rositano said.
Judge Stephen Scott said he needed time to consider what penalty should be imposed and released the man on bail until next month, when he will be sentenced.