A 12-year-old girl, allegedly the victim of sexual assault at the hands of one of the nation’s highest paid school principals, spent almost an entire day testifying yesterday.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave her testimony to the Moree Local Court via closed circuit television. The court was closed to media and the public.
She took the stand at 10:30am, and was finally excused shortly after 4pm, after several breaks. All told, the young girl spent almost five hours providing her evidence, and being cross-examined.
The hearing of Hilton Humphries, the ‘super principal’ of the Moree Secondary College began yesterday, and is scheduled to end today. Most of the testimony so far has been closed to the media and public.
The court has already heard that the young girl was sexually assaulted by Mr Humphries in his office at the High School in early 2013, after being challenged by the principal about a flower she was holding.
The flower was given to the young girl by a young male friend, and the court heard Mr Humphries told her ‘Only I’m allowed to give you flowers’.
When the young girl became upset, the court was told that Mr Humphries asked her “for a hug”, and it was at this point that “she saw, in her words, his private parts” were exposed.
Police allege that Mr Humphries hugged the young girl “tightly” against him while his exposed penis was erect, before allegedly running his hand down her back, from her head to her bottom.
The court was told the young girl was warned by Mr Humphries that if she told anyone what had occurred, her mother lose her job.
The young girl left the office, and was asked by a school administration manager why she was crying. The court was told the young girl “made up a story that she had tripped over”.
Later in the year, the young girl’s mother moved from Moree to another job, and on Christmas Eve 2013, the young girl finally told her mother what had allegedly occurred.
However, defence barrister for Mr Humphries, Matt Johnston, told the court that his client disputed the events outlined in the account given on December 24.
He noted that the young girl was interviewed by Department of Education investigators three months earlier, and did not disclose any assault by Mr Humphries.
Mr Humphries was appointed to the ‘Super Principal’ position in late 2012. Under the NSW Government’s Connected Communities program – a policy aimed at lifting the educational outcomes in 15 communities with high Aboriginal populations – he had greater powers to ‘hire and fire’ staff than a normal school principal, and was paid well above the industry salary.
The hearing continues.
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