Former Opera Australia tenor David Edward Lewis exploited an underage girl's immaturity "for his own sexual gratification" when he had sex with the child performer in the 1990s, a NSW judge has said.
The 59-year-old pleaded guilty in March to two counts of sexual intercourse with a child aged over 10, with three charges of aggravated indecent assault against the same teenage girl taken into account upon sentence.
In Sydney's Downing Centre District Court on Friday, Judge Sarah Huggett jailed Lewis for three years with a non-parole period of two years.
She said Lewis - "a mature and educated man" - must have appreciated the girl "was becoming infatuated in him" during productions.
"I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the offender effectively set out to exploit the victim's immaturity for his own sexual gratification," the judge said.
According to the agreed facts, Lewis and his victim "struck up a friendship" when he was a member of the company's adult chorus and the young girl disclosed "an episode of personal trauma" from her childhood.
"The sexual encounters between the offender and victim were, almost always, spur of the moment and generally occurred during breaks in stage productions," the facts state.
Their physical interactions involved kissing and touching each other's genitalia and, on one occasion, Lewis took the girl to his house - when his first wife wasn't home - and she performed oral sex on him. There was another occasion when she did the same.
"The offender's home was a completely unfamiliar environment for the victim," Judge Huggett said.
He also regularly called the teenage girl at her house referring to their relationship as "chocolate" to conceal it.
Having observed Lewis give evidence at his sentence hearing in November, the judge said: "He did not impress me as a person who is genuinely remorseful for his criminal conduct".
"The offending only stopped because the offender was caught, not because he realised the inappropriateness of his conduct," she said.
Lewis testified that he had originally lied to police, providing answers "best suited to his case" including that the relationship wasn't physical but involved some sexual innuendo.
He admitted that he was somewhat of a narcissist and had been emotionally abusive towards his former wives.
Lewis had been on bail since he was charged in July 2017, some two months after his victim went to police, and he has no other convictions.
His employment with Opera Australia ceased when charges were laid.
The veteran singer received a 25 per cent sentence discount for pleading guilty at the first available opportunity and will be eligible for parole in December 2020.
Australian Associated Press