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Alleged Robert Hughes victim left in legal limbo

The sentencing of the former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes to at least six years' jail on Friday was a moment of relief and jubilation for the survivors of his abuse who had gathered in the Downing Centre District Court.

The judge's ruling provided, if not closure, then at least the end of a significant chapter in a saga that has spanned about 30 years.

But for one person, the sentencing must have elicited a somewhat different emotion.

For while the jury found Hughes guilty of 10 child sex offences last month, they were unable to reach a verdict in relation to an 11th charge.

This charge relates to a woman who says she was sexually abused by Hughes in 1988, while she was on work experience at the business of his partner, Robyn Gardiner.

Giving evidence during Hughes' six-week trial, the woman, now in her early 40s, said Hughes became interested in her while she was working at the actor's agency in Surry Hills and, on one occasion, kissed her on the mouth after dropping her home.


The actor allegedly continued to pursue the teenager, telling her: ''We have taken this as far as we can go. You need to find a place to have sex because I'm far too old to have sex in a bush.''

She alleges she told him: ''I'm 15. I'm still under the age of consent.''

Months later, on her 16th birthday, the woman said she received a dozen red roses with a card signed ''RH''.

Hughes denied the allegations, giving sworn testimony that he had dropped the teenager home from work experience and had once taken her to the Opera House, but nothing more. The jury was unable to decide on whether the abuse had occurred, or not.

It meant she was unable to provide a victim impact statement with the four other women involved in Hughes' trial.

She has spoken publicly for the first time, writing an open letter to Hughes to express how she feels about what she says happened, and revealing her experience of a saga conducted in the glare of publicity.