A young girl told a detective it felt “weird” and “really uncomfortable” when her swim teacher touched her as he corrected her freestyle stroke in 2018.
The eight-year-old marked lines on pictures of a girl to show the detective how her teacher looped his hand between her legs to hold her up, a jury heard on Thursday.
Her bottom was resting on his arm, she said, and his hand was placed on her stomach and vagina.
She is among nine young girls Kyle James Henk Daniels is accused of sexually abusing as he taught them to swim at Mosman Swim Centre on Sydney’s north shore between February 2018 and February 2019.
Mr Daniels, 22, “absolutely and totally” denies the allegations, the District Court heard Thursday.
He has pleaded not guilty to 26 charges including indecent assault, sexual touching and sexual intercourse with a child under 10.
The young girl, whose police interview was prerecorded in March 2019 and played to the jury on Thursday, clutched a toy as she told a detective she understood what a lie was.
“It’s something that isn’t true and you’re telling it to get out of something,” she said before swearing a “pinky promise” that she would tell the truth.
“Do you know what you’ve come to talk to me about today?“ the detective asked.
“Um, the man in swimming lessons,” the girl replied.
She could not remember his name and described him as having brown hair.
But she easily recalled other elements of the lesson: the lane number, the swimmers she was wearing, and her teacher’s blue, orange and white rash vest.
Asked what happened, the girl said: “He was holding me and I didn’t like how he was holding me.”
She said the instructor had placed one of his hands on her stomach and vagina, his arm coming up between her legs from her back, as he held her up in the pool.
“It felt really uncomfortable,” she said. “Because I didn’t like it. And … I don’t know.”
She said the instructor told her what she needed to do in the lesson but said nothing else to her.
The jury also saw a video of the girl being questioned earlier this year by Gabrielle Bashir SC, then acting for Mr Daniels.
She agreed with Ms Bashir she was sitting on the inside of Mr Daniels’ arm, and that his hand had been on her stomach.
“The hand at the front of you was not on your vagina. Is that true or not true?” Ms Bashir asked.
“True,” the girl replied.
She was seven at the time of the alleged touch, for which Mr Daniels has been charged with indecent assault of a child under 16.
The girl’s mother told the jury on Thursday afternoon her daughter had been reluctant to talk to police, but she and her husband told her “a terrible thing had happened to her” and this was her opportunity to “fight back”.
Mr Daniels’ trial barrister Leslie Nicholls pointed out it was not in the mother’s police statement.
“The reason why you’ve said this additional part about terrible things happening, and an opportunity to fight back, is because you want to poison the accused to each of these members of the jury, don’t you?” he said.
“I want to support my daughter,” she replied.
“You do want him punished, don’t you?”
“I want the right thing.”
“Do you want him punished?”
But the mother insisted she did say those things at the time and her statement was “perhaps missing some detail”.
Mr Nicholls pointed at Mr Daniels as he told the jury “that young man over there absolutely and totally denies” the allegations.
“He has never knowingly or intentionally touched any of the complainants in a sexual, indecent or any other unlawful manner whatsoever,” Mr Nicholls said.
“And in a nutshell that is his case.”
The barrister told the jury to look closely at the circumstances of the alleged offending – a busy indoor pool, parents and supervisors close by – and to consider the reliability of the evidence from the nine young girls.
The 12 jurors would have to weigh up if there was “any evidence whatsoever” to suggest Mr Daniels was aware of, or ever acknowledged, any of the alleged touches.
“This is not a case involving an accused person saying, ‘Don’t tell mum about what I just did’,” Mr Nicholls said, lowering his voice to a whisper. “‘Are you OK? Did that feel OK?’”
“Not one such piece of evidence,” he said, back at his usual volume. “Not one.”
Crown prosecutor Karl Prince said there was “no coincidence” to be found in the similar accounts given by the nine girls.
The “only explanation”, he told the jury, was that they were telling the truth.
The trial continues.