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Porn pics planted after dad’s arrest

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Independent Newspapers

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Durban - A former manager at a Christian children’s camp, who was charged with possession of child pornography and the sexual assault of three teenage girls, including his daughter and stepdaughter, has been acquitted.

Advocate Shane Matthews, who represented the 43-year-old man, applied for a discharge following the closure of the State’s case on Wednesday.

He argued in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court that the State had led no evidence to convict the man on any of the charges.

“With respect to my client, from the evidence tendered, he belongs to a dysfunctional family, however, in the circumstances, there is insufficient evidence to convict him of these charges,” Matthews said.

The State did not oppose the application.

Granting the discharge and acquitting the man, Magistrate Ashin Singh said: “It is clear that there is something obviously wrong, but there is no evidence to justify a conviction on any of the charges.”

The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his daughters, pleaded not guilty to touching the alleged victims inappropriately and denied having created or possessed child pornography on his computer.

The man was arrested after his ex-wife allegedly found pornographic images on his computer, including a “seductive” photograph of their half-naked 17-year-old daughter in February 2012.

Arguing for the discharge, Matthews said that a forensic investigation had revealed that the computer images found on the man’s computer were created a day after the girl claims she and her mother discovered the pictures.

The man’s daughter, who is now 20 years old and testified in open court on Wednesday, told the court she had taken the semi-nude pictures of herself “for her own personal use”.

She explained that she had transferred the pictures from her camera on to her computer and then her BlackBerry smartphone. She claimed her father had often confiscated her cellphone and she suspected that is how he came into possession of her pictures.

She conceded, however, that she had never seen him download the pictures and also admitted that her cellphone was locked by a password which she did not think her father could bypass.

The young girl, who often broke down in tears on the stand, also conceded under cross-examination that her father had never sexually assaulted her, but rather “hugged her very often and very tightly” which made her feel uncomfortable.

She claimed there was one incident when her mother had gone to the shops, where she was sitting down playing video games and her father stood behind her and rubbed his penis against the back of her head.

She conceded that he was fully clothed and it was only for a short time, but it made her feel “violated and disgusted”.

Under cross-examination, the girl revealed that she was raised in a strong Christian home which she rebelled against and as a result, she was sent to boarding school when she was 13. There, she became depressed and began self-mutilation.

After that, she was home-schooled. The girl said at times she was unsure if the “bad things” her father was doing to her were “real or in her head”.

She said she had not told anyone of her bad experiences because she did not think her mother would believe her.

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