AN AUSTRALIAN man has faced court in Bali accused of sexually abusing 16 young girls and then paying them off with gifts and money.
The 69-year-old former Victorian man appeared in Denpasar District Court late on Thursday to face trial, where several of his alleged victims testified against him.
Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis, formerly of Beechworth in Victoria, faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted.
On the first day of the trial prosecutors read the indictment against Ellis and then called a number of the young victims to testify in a closed court about him. It is alleged that one of the victims, seven years later, went on to bring other young girls to Ellis’ home where they were also allegedly abused.
According to the Prosecutor’s indictment, seen by News Corporation, it is alleged that between 2014 and 2015 in his boarding home in Kuta and a house in Tabanan, Ellis sexually abused 16 young girls aged eight to 17 years-old.
Ellis is alleged to have repeatedly abused the young girls by touching their bodies and private parts while bathing them at his home. He is alleged to have given them presents of clothing, bicycles, taking them to the mall and giving them cash of 200,000 Rupiah or $20.
Several of the young victims testified at Thursday’s hearing where the prosecutors and Judges opted not to wear their official uniforms to make the children more comfortable and less intimidated. A female Judge also sat next to each victim during the questioning.
One witness told of being bathed by Ellis, during which he allegedly digitally penetrated her while others waited and were bathed one by one.
Another alleged victim, who is now 17 and codenamed W, told of her first meeting Ellis when she was 10. She had bathed in front of him but he had not touched her, she said. She said she had been paid 200,000 Rupiah which she used to pay for her family’s rent.
Later, it is alleged that W took other young girls to Ellis. She and her mother were both allegedly given motorbikes by Ellis. Judges refused to allow W to remain in the court while other alleged victims testified to ensure there were no influences.
In response to the allegations Ellis’ lawyer Benny Hariyono said his client had no intention to abuse the children but was only bathing them and had not deliberately touched them inappropriately.
Mr Hariyono said the children had needed money to pay the costs of boarding house rent and he had never abused them.
The alleged victims were assisted in court by members of Lentera Anak Bali, a children’s NGO which had been instrumental in uncovering the case.
In bizarre scenes, after the trial was adjourned Ellis attempted to approach the alleged victims to shake their hands until the NGO insisted this stop.
The trial was adjourned to July 14 to hear further witness testimony, including from experts and doctors.
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