A MAN who groped a friend’s young daughter has avoided jail time to continue with a sex offender program.
Peter Charles Anton, 49, touched the seven-year-old victim in her Albury home in January last year.
Anton had been invited into her father’s house and had been spending time with the man and the victim.
The father had said he needed to shower and left the room, but changed his mind.
When he returned a short time later, he found the then 47-year-old standing over the girl, looking down her pants.
Anton was told to get out of the home and reported the incident to a support worker later that day.
He admitted to touching the girl and was arrested at his home on February 17.
He made partial admissions to police and the victim said it was the only time it had happened.
Albury District Court on Tuesday heard the incident had been brief but opportunistic.
Despite having several mental health problems and low IQ, the court heard Anton had some insight into what he had done.
He had also taken responsibility for the offence, showed remorse and understood the impact the incident would have had on the young girl.
The 49-year-old, who was found to be “simple” with a mild intellectual disability, is considered to be of low to moderate risk of re-offending.
Anton has been admitted into psychiatric care for issues including schizophrenia and suicide ideation 22 times in Albury and Wagga since 2002.
Judge Clive Jeffreys noted the importance of Anton undertaking a sex offenders program, which was unlikely to be available in jail due to the nature of the offence.
Anton had disclosed the Albury incident to a psychiatrist whom he first saw last December and was placed on sex offender treatment.
Mr Jeffreys said the seriousness of the incident meant a jail term was needed.
He sentenced Anton to 17 months in jail but immediately suspended the sentence.
He was placed on a bond, which includes supervision by community corrections and must be of good behaviour.