Girls tell of touching in pool

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Three young girls in the lazy river at Alpine Aqualand on June 14, 2017 discussed asking a man to ”stop touching”, but were too nervous to do so, a jury heard yesterday.

The man, who has interim name suppression, denies 13 charges of indecently assaulting six girls, all under the age of 12, on June 8, 10 and 14, 2017 in the Queenstown Events Centre swimming pool.

On the second day of his trial in the Invercargill District Court, the jury was played the police DVD interview with one complainant, who was 9 at the time, in the facility on June 14.

She was with friends and as the man, who was using a float board, approached them he said ”excuse me”.

She moved and believed he had enough room to get past ”but he ended up touching the middle of my leg”.

His fingers allegedly brushed the inside of her left thigh and continued up, over her hip and towards her ribs.

”I didn’t think much of it because he was just swimming and it was an accident.

”I guess it felt kind of weird … but I didn’t think it was major, because I didn’t think he would do it again.” She and her two friends then talked and one alleged she had also been touched, so the trio spoke about asking him to stop.

Too nervous to, the complainant continued playing in the lazy river and later stopped to turn around by the side of the pool.

She alleged as the man passed her he brushed her right leg, from her knee cap to the top of her thigh.

Another complainant, aged 8 at the time, alleged the man caressed her stomach, below her belly button, three times that she could recall, while she was playing in the lazy river on June 8.

”The first time I thought he was accidentally doing it, but when he continued doing it I just thought it was a complete habit,” she said in her DVD interview.

She had been playing ball tag with friends while the man was ”cruising” around the lazy river using a float board.

As he passed her, he extended his arm and touched her stomach with his fingers.

She alleged he did that three times and on the fourth she moved against the side of the pool, out of his reach, as he approached.

”I didn’t think it was right.

”It made me feel a bit strange and I wanted to yell at him.” When asked by defence counsel Hugo Young, she accepted she did not see the man touch her, but felt it.

She said if felt different from water from the pool’s jets and confirmed after the man allegedly touched her the first time she was asked by an older girl if he had touched her, and if it ”felt weird”.

”When the older girl … asked you if you’d been touched by the man, did you think the man was bad?” Mr Young asked.

”In a way, yes,” she replied.

”And the reason why you thought it was bad touching was because of what the older girl said to you?” he asked.

”Yes. And when he did it again,” she responded.

But when Mr Young asked her if she agreed the man was ”bumping in to you, with his hand, by accident”, she replied that she did.

The first complainant, who was 10 at the time, alleged the man initially pushed her right thigh, then lightly grazed it three more times while she was playing ball tag on June 8.

She was standing next to the jets, but said she felt his touch.

However, Mr Young submitted those alleged incidents were also unintentional.

”I’m saying that on the times that you were touched, so, at least the first time, the push … and if you were touched on the others, it was just an accident.

”That’s all it was.

”What do you say to that?,” he asked.

She replied: ”Kind of”.

The trial continues before Judge Mark Callaghan.