LIFESTYLE Solutions founder David Benedict Hogg has been jailed for two years and four months with a non-parole period of a year for the sexual assault of a school girl in his care in 1988.
His victim, Helen McMaugh – who was year 11 Carlingford High School student Helen Cassis on work experience with Mr Hogg at the time – wept as the sentence was handed out by Judge Antony Townsend at the Downing Centre court complex in Sydney on Friday afternoon.
“I think it’s an appropriate sentence and I am relieved it is over,” Ms McMaugh said outside the court.
But minutes later, Hogg’s solicitor Hugo Aston said he would be lodging an “all grounds appeal” within 28 days and that his client strongly maintained his innocence.
As previously reported, Hogg was convicted of the digital sexual assault of Ms McMaugh in a vehicle parked under the Harbour Bridge on the night of July 29, 1988.
Hogg had been the school counsellor, had officiated, as a Baptist minister, at the wedding of her sister, and had been looking after Ms McMaugh as one of two pupils with him for a week of work experience in the juvenile justice system, which was central to his work with the church.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Townsend said it was all too common for “people in positions of trust to breach that trust”, with the result often being ‘long term harm”.
Despite submissions from the defence that jail would have a serious impact on Hogg’s health because of his age and the depression that had overtaken him since he was charged, Judge Townsend said the only appropriate penalty was a full-time prison sentence.
He said the maximum term for Hogg’s crime was eight years but he was required to take sentencing practices at the time of the offence into account.
On the assault itself, Judge Townsend found that Hogg had subjected Ms McMaugh to a “short” but “serious” digital penetration. While the assault was not “aggravated” it was “well considered and not spontaneous”. He was in a position of trust with Ms McMaugh, who was only just past her 16th birthday, and the age difference between them was “relatively significant”. Mr Hogg was 35 years old minister at the time of the assault, and had been married since the age of 23.
Judge Townsend said that while it was not a child-sex case because Ms McMaugh had turned 16, it was Hogg’s “good character” that gave him access to her through the school work experience program.
Describing the effect of the assault on Ms McMaugh, the judge said she found intimacy and kissing difficult despite a happy marriage. As a younger woman, she had turned to drugs and alcohol as a form of escapism but had turned her life around and completed a business degree in 2011.
Judge Townsend noted that Hogg maintained his innocence, and said he had displayed “no remorse or contrition”. He agreed that Hogg was at a “low risk” of re-offending. He accepted that Hogg had developed an “adjustment disorder” as a result of his being arrested, charged and convicted, and noted the concerns of a psychologist who said jail would be more onerous for Hogg because of his age and his depressive illness.