A WOMAN who was repeatedly sexually abused by her step-father and gave birth to his child when she was 15 has been awarded more than $850,000 in damages.
The woman, who cannot be identified, launched legal action against her step-father in 2017, claiming he had sexually assaulted her at a property at Port Stephens on seven occasions between 1995 and 2001 and one occasion, in 2012, had physically assaulted her by dragging her out of bed by her ankle and kicked her out of the house.
She also told the NSW Supreme Court that during the period between 2001 and 2012 her step-father had "intentionally caused her physical and psychiatric injury" by constantly verbally abusing and belittling her.
"Between 2001 and 2012 I felt like a person who had no sense of identity," the woman said when describing the effects of the sexual abuse.
As a result of the assaults and related abuse, the woman now suffers from a variety of psychiatric or psychological conditions and continuing disabilities.
She also alleged that, as a consequence of one of the sexual assaults, she became pregnant, and suffered as a result of the pregnancy and from giving birth.
The woman's statement of claim sought damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages from her step-father, as well as interest and costs.
The woman's step-father, who is still serving a maximum seven-and-a-half year jail term for sexually assaulting her on four occasions between 2000 and 2001, admitted to the sexual assaults for which he had pleaded guilty and been sentenced for, but denied all other allegations.
The other claims, which were not the subject of criminal proceedings, included allegations of sexual assault at a home in Newcastle in 1995 or 1996, at a motel room at Port Macquarie in 2001 and at the property at Port Stephens in 2001. The woman also claimed that in 2012 her step-father physically assaulted her and threw her out of the Port Stephens property. The woman gave evidence about the disputed sexual and physical assaults, refuting claims from her step-father's legal representative that her memory of that period was clouded.
Acting Justice Carolyn Simpson said the woman gave her evidence in a "straight-forward fashion", made the appropriate concessions under cross-examination and did not appear to be exaggerating.
"I found the defendant a less impressive witness," Acting Justice Simpson said.
During his evidence, the woman's step-father acknowledged the four incidents he had pleaded guilty to, but denied the details until he was confronted with the facts he had agreed to be sentenced on.
"At times he was evasive, appearing to be reluctant to acknowledge even those assaults which he had admitted," Acting Justice Simpson said. "For example, when questioned about one of the offences, he answered: "That's what I've been charged with, yes"."
Ultimately, Acting Justice Simpson was satisfied that the sexual assaults the man denied had been committed and awarded the woman $853,550 in damages.