ACT News

Former janitor accused of molesting girl in school gym goes on trial

An alleged abuse victim has lashed out at a former school janitor on trial for molesting her decades ago, calling him a liar and asking how he could sit there with "that smug look on your face" as she was cross-examined by his barrister.

Lazo Djenadija, 75, went on trial on Tuesday for indecently assaulting two sisters in Canberra who regularly came to his home. The abuse allegedly took place when they were between nine and 12.

He is accused of taking the older of the sisters to his school after hours and assaulting her on gym mats in a storage room.

The younger sister was allegedly indecently assaulted on a bed on two separate occasions at Djenadija's Canberra home.

She began giving evidence about the allegations in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday, saying Djenadija made her watch pornography while making commentary about what was being shown. 

In cross-examination, she was accused of lying about the pornography, and Djenadija's barrister, Richard Thomas, put it to her that there wasn't even a VCR in the home.

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She said she was telling the truth, before turning to Djenadija and saying: 

"You made me watch the f---ing pornography."

"How can you just sit there with that smug look on your face?

"You're the liar, don't make me out to be the liar." 

Djenadija is accused of four offences, three against the younger of the sisters, and one against the older. 

The Crown alleges that during the assault of the older sister at the school gym, he said: "Do you like that? How does it feel?"

The assaults against the younger sister allegedly took place while they were alone together in the home.

The first allegedly saw Djenadija climb on top of her on a bed before rubbing his groin on her.

He is then accused of making her touch his genitals.

The second allegation is that Djenadija climbed on top of the girl   and rubbed himself against her, only stopping when his then partner walked in to the room.

The Crown alleges he pretended to be playing a game with the victim, grabbing her wrists and saying "stop hitting yourself" to the child.

Mr  Thomas accused her of lying about those incidents, putting it to her that she had never been caught in a "compromising position" with his client.

In her evidence-in-chief, the Crown asked her why she had never told anyone about the abuse.

"I was scared to tell anybody," she said.

"I was scared that nobody would believe me. I was scared to cause conflict.

"I was a child, it's not something you talk about."

She said she eventually mentioned the abuse to her mother in the 1990s, then to her husband after their marriage, to her best friend when they were discussing the trial of Hey Dad star Robert Hughes, and to a workmate who knew Djenadija in 2012.

The woman said she came forward to police when she realised other children were in Djenadija's care. 

In his opening address, Mr Thomas told the jury his client would give evidence from the witness box himself to deny the charges. 

He told the jury that evidence of the history of the families involved in the case would become "very important".

The barrister said there would be evidence of the delay of "several decades" before the sisters complained about the alleged crimes.

The cross-examination of the younger of the sisters will continue on Wednesday. The older sister has not yet given evidence.

The trial continues before Chief Justice Helen Murrell.