The former star of Aussie sitcom Hey Dad!, Robert Hughes, has been sentenced to 10 years, 9 months jail time after being found guilty of 10 child sex offences perpetrated on young girls during the 1980s.
He will serve a minimum of six years behind bars before being eligible for parole.
In front of a packed courtroom in Sydney’s Downing Centre Court where people stood and sat on the floor,
Judge Peter Zahra individually read through each of the ten victims’
statements. According to those live-tweeting from inside the public gallery, one victim said she was too young to fight off Hughes, while another said he assaulted her while shooting publicity photos for Hey Dad!. Others were plagued by fear, anxiety, shame and eating disorders post the initial abuse.
The 65-year-old sat alone and expressionless as the statements were read out – his wife Robyn Gardiner did not make an appearance.
As the offences took place in the ’80s, Judge Zara had to sentence according to the “statutory regime” and “sentencing patterns” of the time.
Judge notes that in 1980s max sentences much lower and minimum sentences were just 1/3 to 1/2 of maxim. #roberthughes
— Paul Bibby (@PaulEbibby) May 16, 2014
The first two charges against Hughes carried a maximum of 10 years imprisonment (now 20 years), while the next seven carried a maximum of six years (now 10 years imprisonment).
Judge Zahra said the assaults were “degrading and shameful”, and he took full advantage of the trust placed in him.
— Nigel Freitas (@nigelfreitas) May 16, 2014
Judge Zahra said there was no evidence that Hughes remained troubled by his crimes, stating he may have believed his victims would have “remained silent”.
In a trial that lasted almost six weeks, the court heard harrowing statements from women that were still suffering from the abuse they endured. According to their statements, Hughes exposed himself to the girls during sleepovers at his house and would walk naked into their rooms. The jury also heard of other incidents of Hughes asking girls to swim under his legs at Manly Beach, exposing himself as they did so. At his sentencing, Sarah Monahan, one Hey Dad!
actor who accused him of sexual assault, said she never wants to have
children in case they go through what she had to endure and has come to
hate the word ‘dad’.
The victims were aged between seven and 15 years old at the time of the offences, committed between 1983 and 1991.
Upon hearing the sentence, Monahan (who was 10-years-old when Hughes began exposing himself to her) tweeted:
I’m going to RT the shit out of that sentence! 10 years, 9 months! #Hughes
— Sarah Monahan Morris (@shrimptank) May 16, 2014
Hughes continues to maintain his innocence and is expected to appeal against the sentence.
Photo: Don Arnold via Getty Images.