Coach on trial for sexually assaulting junior player
A NORTHERN Rivers sports coach is on trial in Lismore District Court for the sexual assault of a 14-year-old player.
The 57-year-old man allegedly molested the boy, who has Asperger's syndrome, in the changing room of a popular local sporting facility last year.
The Ballina man is facing seven charges over the incident, including the aggravated sexual assault of a person under 16, sexual intercourse with a person between 14 and 16, and three counts of indecent assault of a person under 16.
He has been held in custody on remand since his arrest in May last year.
The trial commenced on Monday before a 12-person jury and the Crown has called several child witnesses, as well as coaches and administrators of the sport and the boy's parents.
Much of the trial has focused on both the boy's movements and the accused man's movements on the day when the majority of the alleged offences occurred.
The accused man did not coach the boy, but assisted him with umpiring.
On Thursday a recording of the man's formal interview with police was played to the court, in which he denied the allegations.
It is not in dispute that the accused man was in one of the changing rooms of the sporting complex alone with the boy for a short time.
But during the police interview the accused man said he was only in the changing rooms alone with the boy for "two or three minutes" between two games scheduled that day.
He said he was in a rush because he was running late to his next game.
He told police he changed his gear, went to the toilet, and then left again.
"It's a quick bang bang bang, it's not as if I've got 20 minutes to (wander) around and do stuff," he said.
The man also told police he had developed a mentoring relationship with the boy to help him with the sport.
He said the boy's behaviour was often "over the top" due to his Asperger's Syndrome and he's chosen to support him in his sporting development.
"Basically I've gone out of my way to help the child," he said.
The Crown alleges that the man had previously made lewd comments to the boy in 2016 and on the day of the allegations in 2017 had told him to "wait" while others left the change rooms.
He then sexually and indecently assaulted him multiple times, it is alleged.
The trial continues.