Man jailed for indecent assault against teenager while committed on parole

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A CONVICTED sex offender who indecently assaulted a vulnerable teenage girl he’d befriended when they worked together at a Perth animal shelter has been sentenced to 10 months in jail.

James William Rao was 65 when he indecently touched the 16-year-old girl, who was a ward of the state, as he picked her up from high school last year.

The District Court of WA heard on Friday that Rao was on parole for similar crimes committed against teenagers over several years at the time of the offence and had also been convicted in 1977 of unlawful carnal knowledge of a 15-year-old girl.

The court heard the Department for Child Protection stopped his latest victim from working at the animal shelter after learning about Rao’s history, but their friendship persisted.

When he molested her, she told him it hurt and to stop, and he responded angrily, saying he hated her excuses.

Rao told police he barely knew her, but Judge Mark Herron said he groomed her by buying her cigarettes and food, and giving her a gift, and she looked up to him as a father figure.

“There was a power imbalance between the two of you,” Judge Herron said.

“You didn’t learn from your previous offending.

“You haven’t learnt what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.”

The court heard the girl was extremely vulnerable, and had told Rao she had a troubled background including being sexually abused.

She also confided in him about wanting to self harm and hurt herself so much after the abuse she needed hospitalisation, the court heard.

Rao has been in custody since late January and will be eligible for release after serving five months behind bars.

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