Catholic community leaders told an alleged ACT child abuse victim to "forgive" her father and removed the religious mentor the girl had worked up the courage to confide in, police say.
The alleged abuser, now 73, was a leading member of a Canberra religious community closely linked to the Catholic Church, and stands accused of abusing a number of girls, including two of his own daughters.
The man, who has not been identified to protect his daughter, appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday, represented by lawyer Peter Woodhouse, and was committed for trial in the ACT Supreme Court after pleading not guilty to all charges.
Court documents allege the crimes took place in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, but were only brought to light recently as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
One of the man's daughters saw an article in a News Corp publication in Victoria about the Catholic Church and child abuse two years ago, which angered her and prompted her to come forward, police say.
She told police her father's abuse occurred regularly, often when her mother was away on church-initiated coaching weekends, or giving birth to her many brothers and sisters.
The first time she was allegedly abused, the daughter was lying on a bottom bunk one evening in 1973, while her sister slept above.
The father allegedly came in, sat down, and began to touch her, before carrying her back to his bedroom and molesting her further.
The alleged abuse continued regularly while she was a young girl.
"She would cry herself to sleep many nights, terrified of her father coming to her bedroom to sexually abuse her," police said in court documents.
During her teenage years, the daughter was given a church mentor to guide her through her "spiritual and religious journey".
She built trust with the mentor and eventually disclosed her father's alleged actions.
The mentor disclosed it to the leaders of the church community, and the girl was told to tell her mother.
Court documents state she confided in her mother but said she was told "she should forgive her father because as a Christian she was forgiven so that she could forgive".
A short time later, the mentor was told by church community leaders that her pastoral support for the woman would cease.
Some years later, in the mid-1980s, the defendant is alleged to have told members of the church community that he abused the girl, but never penetrated her, nor abused anyone else.
After that, meetings between the mother, father, daughter and others were arranged, in which the girl was encouraged by the "church elders" to forgive her father.
The father has since been charged with a string of offences against the daughter.
Another of his daughters has also since come forward alleging she was sexually abused regularly as a child.
A third girl, who attended a family day care at the man's residence in the 1980s and 1990s, has also made a statement to police about her experiences.
It is alleged he abused that girl in a storage room beneath his home, in a "cut-out" in the wall cavity, that was concealed by a curtain.
"The sexual abuse was a regular occurrence, and the defendant took [the complainant] to the storage room under the house many times and coaxed her into the 'cut-out' so that he could sexually abuse her in there," police allege.
The matter will appear in the ACT Supreme Court next month.