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Trial of man accused of groping young girl opens

Trial of man accused of groping young girl opens

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Trial of man accused of groping young girl opens


A young girl, who claims a man in his 50s groped her before repeatedly urging her to "shush about it", has told the Royal Court how the alleged sexual assault left her feeling “confused and scared”.

The allegations came from the child during a video interview played on the first day of the trial of Manuel Antonio Marques Duarte (55), who denies one count of indecent assault.

It opened yesterday morning after a jury of seven women and five men was selected.

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Pictured: A jury was selected as Manuel Duarte's trial opened.

Led by Solicitor General Mark Temple, the prosecution claims that the alleged assault involved Mr Duarte putting his hand into the young girl’s leggings and touching her bottom and genitalia beneath her underwear.

She claims that he whispered in her ear, “Is it okay if I touch this bit?” but carried on even when she shook her head. The girl also said that Mr Duarte kept signalling for her to “shush” before and after the alleged assault.

Her evidence was heard by the Court via a recorded Police interview taken the day after the alleged incident and testimony given live through video link. 

In her interview, she told the officer that Mr Duarte “put his hand down where he shouldn’t".

The girl went on to explain that “it felt really strange” and that she “was just really confused and scared at the time".

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Pictured: The alleged victim's evidence was heard in part through a recorded Police interview.

“I would shake my head ‘no’, and then he was just carry[ing] on rubbing around my private bits.”

She told the interviewing officer: “Everytime I went somewhere he would tell me to ‘shush’ about it. I don’t know what he wanted me to ‘shush’ about - he just told me to ‘be quiet’ every time I went.

“I just got really scared when he did that.” 

Elaborating on how she was feeling, the alleged victim said: “It just felt really wrong, strange, I was confused, scared and was kind of shocked as well.” 

Advocate Michael Haines, defending Mr Duarte, asked the girl some questions to cross-examine her evidence.

The defence lawyer asked her if she was being “noisy” at the time Mr Duarte was telling her to “shush”, She said that she wasn’t.

He asked her to clarify how many times he whispered in her ear, to which she replied, “once”. However, she said that she couldn’t remember exactly what he said.

Advocate Haines asked her to recall her movements at the time of the alleged assault and where she was in relation to Mr Duarte.

When asked whether she actually saw Mr Duarte's hand go into her clothing, the child responded: “No, but I felt it."

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Pictured: The trial will continue in the Royal Court for the rest of the week.

She said she did not make a noise or say anything as the alleged sexual assault took place, explaining: "I pretended that it wasn’t happening." 

The Court heard that the girl told another child and two adults about what she said Mr Duarte had allegedly done to her.

The other child, also called as a witness, told the interviewing officer in her recorded interview: “She said apparently he was doing sexual abuse to her, but I didn’t really get what she meant…”

In cross-examination, the child told the Court that she didn’t witness the alleged assault itself.

The first day of the trial - presided over by Commissioner Sir John Saunders - also heard evidence from two other adults.

It will continue this morning with further evidence from witnesses called by the prosecution.

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