Paedophile sent to jail for historic abuse of two sisters at Christian holiday camp

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Robert Ray lived at the Christian holiday camp with his wife when he began grooming the sisters. He went on to sexually abuse them both in secret over a decade. Photo / Jeremy Wilkinson

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WARNING: This story deals with sexual abuse of children and may be distressing.

A paedophile who groomed and sexually abused two young sisters over a decade when they attended a Christian holiday camp he lived at with his wife, has been sent to jail.

Robert Ray was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to a range of charges including rape, sexual violation, and performing indecent acts on a girl under the age of 16.

Much of the offending occurred at the Christian holiday camp in the lower North Island between 1989 and 1998.

The girls, whose identities are suppressed by the court, were younger than 12 when the offending began.

The grown sisters told a court on Wednesday afternoon how cleaning now terrifies them after their abuser made up chores for them at the camp in order to create opportunities to molest them.

According to the summary of facts, Ray began grooming the older of the two sisters when she was 12 by offering her money and giving her a bikini under the pretext of him conducting a photoshoot.

This escalated to Ray rubbing sunscreen on the girl’s breasts and touching her genitals.

The charge of rape related to an incident when Ray drove the girl to a secluded caravan, luring her there with lollies.

While there Ray instructed the girl to take her clothes off and began massaging her. He then took his own clothes off and raped her.

He told her it was a secret and not to tell anyone what had happened there.

She told the court today she could no longer even bear to look at a caravan because of what had happened to her inside one.

Robert Ray was sentenced to six years in prison when he was sentenced in the Levin District Court on Wednesday. Photo / Jeremy Wilkinson
Robert Ray was sentenced to six years in prison when he was sentenced in the Levin District Court on Wednesday. Photo / Jeremy Wilkinson

Ray’s lawyer told the court he was still attempting to sell a caravan for around $20,000 which he would use to pay reparation to his two victims.

The younger sister was groomed by Ray from the age of 8 or 9, when he again used the excuse of a photoshoot to get close to the child.

The girl would stay with Ray and his wife after the couple moved to the holiday camp near Wellington and the abuse would occur almost every time she stayed with them over eight years.

He would ask her to clean the women’s bathroom and stand over her, pressing his body against her. Or he would take her to a secluded cabin at the camp and ask her to undress. He would then masturbate while touching her.

“As she got older she began to resist your advances by trying to get out of activities,” Judge Lance Rowe said to Ray.

“You would become overbearing and remind her you had paid her for her time at the camp and that she owed you.”

Both sisters were in the Levin District Court on Wednesday afternoon to watch as Ray was sent to jail.

“I want to see him pay for what he did,” the elder sister told the court.

“What he did to me has impacted my life a lot as I’ve grown up. I’ve always gone for someone older because I was looking for what I thought was love.”

She said she’d had no idea that Ray had also abused her little sister until she decided to go to the police to report the abuse.

“Because of what he did we no longer are as close as we had been, because she knew what had happened to me but I had no idea what he was doing to her.”

The younger sister said she couldn’t clean, and any attempt to do so would bring back memories of Ray abusing her.

“I can’t bear to clean, especially bathrooms,” she said. “I also feel unable to get close to people and really open up.

“This has gone on to affect me in terms of wanting to have sexual contact or any enjoyment from it, which has made it very hard on my current marriage.”

Ray’s lawyer, Kila Pedder, told the court that his client was extremely sorry for what he’d done and had tried to engage in restorative justice with his victims.

Pedder said Ray had been abused by two men for a period of six years starting when he was nine and that had negatively impacted him.

Judge Rowe said Ray’s offending was premeditated and was a massive breach of trust.

“There was a high degree of victim impact,” he said.

“You were obliged to protect these girls not abuse them.”

He noted that Ray had two other convictions for sexual offending against young girls which he was sentenced for in 1998 and this excluded him from a good character discount.

When he gets out of prison he will be added to the sex offenders register.

SEXUAL HARM

Where to get help:
If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email support@safetotalk.nz
• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station – click here for a list.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it’s not your fault.

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