Artist Dennis Nona pleads not guilty to sexual abuse of child that led to pregnancy

Artist Dennis Nona pleads not guilty to sexual abuse of child that led to pregnancy

An Indigenous artist has gone on trial for two counts of having sexual intercourse with a child and two counts of an act of indecency in the presence of children.

Dennis Michael Nona, 41, appeared before Chief Justice Helen Murrell in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday and denied the charges, which are alleged to have occurred while he was a student at the Australian National University.

On trial: Dennis Nona.

On trial: Dennis Nona.

Photo: Getty Images

Crown prosecutor Margaret Jones told the jury that Nona, a Torres Strait Islander, had sexual intercourse with a 12-year-old girl in her home in February 1996.

The Crown alleged Nona had sexual intercourse with the same girl in April the same year, causing her to fall pregnant.

Ms Jones told the jury the child's pregnancy was not discovered until September when she was examined by a doctor, and the pregnancy was terminated 22 weeks after conception.


The prosecution told the jury there was extremely strong evidence Nona was the father of the child, despite the child telling police she didn't know who the father was.

But Nona's barrister, John Purnell, told the court the young girl had "a crush on [Nona] and was keen" on the accused, despite admitting the circumstances were "extraordinary", "unusual" and "shocking".

Mr Purnell told the jury the case was "weird", "sad" and "shocking" and said it was their task to determine "who is telling the truth and who is lying" about the incidents.

The defence told the jury the case was a matter of whether Nona "intentionally", "voluntarily", and "knowingly" had sex with the girl.

Nona is also accused of committing an act of indecency in front of two children aged 13 and 14 years at the time.

According to the prosecution, the children were in the backyard of a property when Nona knocked on a bedroom window from inside to draw their attention, and then exposed his penis with his hand on it.

The complainant told the court Nona was allegedly "playing with his penis as if it were a joke" and was "looking right at us".

The trial continues in the ACT Supreme Court.

Henry Belot

Henry Belot is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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