Former deputy principal accused of sexual assault of teen at her father's funeral wake

By Owen Jacques
ABC News
September 3, 2019

A former Queensland deputy principal indecently assaulted a teenager at a wake after the funeral of the girl's father in the 1990s, a court has heard.

Kenneth Ralph Ernst, 60, from the Sunshine Coast, faces 15 charges for allegedly indecently assaulting the teen over the span of six years.

Mr Ernst, who worked in schools on the Sunshine Coast and in Cairns, has pleaded not guilty to all charges, including indecent treatment of a child and attempted rape.

On Tuesday, the court heard from the victim's mother, a friend, and an Anglican priest, who were each told by the teen of the alleged assaults in the past five years.

A long-time friend of the alleged victim, who has known her for close to two decades, told the court how she had told him of the attacks during a holiday to Vietnam in 2015.

The friend told the court that during a conversation about "first loves", she broke down and began alleging a history of abuse by the accused.

"She told me that she'd been sexually abused by [the man] from a young age," he said.

"She was groomed from a very young age."

Assault at funeral wake 'the most aggressive attempt'

The friend also recalled the alleged victim's description of being assaulted at the wake after her father's funeral.

"He pushed her up against the bookshelf and tried having sex with her," he told the court.

"This was the most aggressive attempt — she was trying to push him off with her hands."

An Anglican priest told the court how the woman and her mother — a parishioner at her church — came to her with the historic allegations.

"[The victim] said she was sexually abused from 11 until 17," the priest said.

"The process in the church takes all allegations of child sex abuse very seriously.

"We pass it on to the Professional Standards Department, and their role is to get that to police."

The trial continues.


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