Actor Robert Hughes, star of popular 1980s Australian sitcom Hey Dad!, has been jailed for at least six years for sexually and indecently assaulting young girls.
The judge said the 65-year-old’s string of offences against four victims between 1985 and 1990 “represented a systematic pattern of sexual abuse of vulnerable young girls”.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges and his lawyer said he would appeal his conviction and sentence, which will see him serve a maximum of 10 years and nine months in jail.
The Sydney District Court was packed for the sentencing on 10 counts, including two of sexual intercourse without consent.
Judge Peter Zahra said Hughes’ conduct was “persistent” and “calculated”.
“He abused his position of trust and exploited the naivety and youth of the children involved,” Mr Zahra said in a statement.
The court had heard that Hughes had crept into the bedroom of one teen while at a dinner at her parents’ home and sexually assaulted her.
In another instance he forced a girl, then aged between six and eight, to touch him while she was staying at his Sydney home.
One girl regularly spent time at Hughes’ home on sleepovers with his daughter, with the actor engaging in a range of sexual misconduct towards her.
Mr Zahra said: “The offending was part of a pattern of predatory behaviour towards the victim when the victim was in the offender’s care.”
In victim impact statements, one woman, now aged 37, said she would never have children because of her exposure to Hughes and now hated the word “dad”.
Another said she wished Hughes, the star of the popular sitcom about an architect father bringing up his three children after the death of his wife, “nothing but misery”.
“I never thought I’d see this day,” she said.
“For 26 years I’ve tried to deal with the fact that this just happened. Maybe now I can try to piece my life together again, to not feel ashamed or dirty.”
Hughes’ lawyer Greg Walsh said: “My reaction is that it’s a very severe sentence. It’s still a bit of a shock at this stage. I think you would describe it as a crushing sentence.”
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said when the verdicts were read out, Hughes stood up and shouted: “I am innocent.”
16 May 2014 | 11:38 am – Source: orange.co.uk