Zach Hogg

Accused takes stand in indecent treatment trial

A FORMER school principal accused of four counts of indecent treatment of a child under 12 has taken the stand on day four of the trial in the Bundaberg District Court.

The man, who can not be named to protect the identity of the complainant, allegely kissed the former student - aged 11 years old at the time - on four occasions; once on the forehead, once on the cheek and twice on the mouth between April 21, 2014 and June 13, 2014.

 On Tuesday the court heard the defendant admitted he kissed the girl on the cheek on one occasion, but denied the circumstances of the kiss and the other incidents.

The defendant explained that in hindsight he kissed the complainant to congratulate her on securing a leadership position at the school, an action he admitted was unprofessional and for which he later apologised.

During cross examination crown prosecutor Susan Hedge asked the defendant why he didn't report the incident.

Ms Hedge put it to the defendant that he had put himself above the rules and did not report the kiss, hoping the complainant would not tell anyone else.

But the defendant explained he felt the incident was "marginal" and that it was up to his "personal discretion" whether the incident warranted reporting.

But Ms Hedge suggested the reason the defendant did not report it was because it was sexual and for that reason the defendant also did not sit down and talk to the complainant's parents about the incident.

"I suggest the reason you didn't was because it was sexual," she said.

"No it wasn't," the defendant answered.

The defendant said he was aware of the teacher's code of conduct and made the decision that an apology to the complainant would suffice.

Defence barrister Stephen Courtney asked his client what he thought the complainant would understand about his action.

"Did you understand that (the complainant) would understand that it was wrong that you had kissed her?" Mr Courtney asked.

"Yes," the defendant responded.

In his closing address Mr Courtney said the prosecution's case was that the kiss had a "sexual flavour" but he urged the jury to use their common sense and that a kiss could be innocent.

He asked the jury to remember a child was not a small adult, lacked the maturity of an adult and may not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions.

The trial continues

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