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Accused in Pitcairn abuse trial changes his plea to guilty

Irish Independent

THE prosecution in the case of seven Pitcairn men accused of a catalogue of sexual offences against young girls on the island scored a significant victory when one of the defendants changed his plea to guilty.

Dennis Christian (49), the island postmaster and a descendant of the mutineer Fletcher Christian, admitted in court on Monday night carrying out three sexual assaults on two girls aged as young as 12 between the early 1970s and early 1980s. Two of the charges were samples representing a prolonged pattern of abuse. He now faces jail. Christian was remanded on bail by Judge Russell Johnson, one of three New Zealand judges trying the men without juries, and will be sentenced at the end of the remaining hearings. One charge against him was dropped.

Simon Moore, the chief prosecutor in the trials, said he was pleased that Christian's victims had at least been spared the distress of giving evidence against him. Nine women, now living elsewhere, had been due to testify via satellite video link from Auckland.

Det Insp Rob Vinson of Kent police, one of the leaders of the Pitcairn investigation, said of the guilty plea: "It is a significant development. Hopefully, it will lead to some acceptance on the island of things that have taken place."

Earlier the court was told that Steve Christian (53), the mayor of Pitcairn, treated the young girls of the island as 'a personal harem'. The victims said they did not tell their parents because they would have been powerless to do anything on a speck of rock where co-operation between the few inhabitants, particularly the able-bodied men, was vital.  Their trauma was ignored until police began investigating sexual abuse on Pitcairn 25 years later.

The alleged offences took place between the mid-1960s, when the population was about 80, and the early 1990s, when it had dropped to about 60. There are now only 47 people on Pitcairn, a community founded in 1790 by mutineers from the Bounty, their Polynesian consorts and six Polynesian men.


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