Kenneth Ralph Ernst (back) leaves Maroochydore courthouse.
Kenneth Ralph Ernst (back) leaves Maroochydore courthouse.

Jury retires to decide if deputy principal abused teen girl

A JURY has retired to deliberate its verdicts on 15 allegations Kenneth Ralph Ernst, 60, indecently assaulted a teenage girl in the 1990s.

Judge Tony Moynihan QC told jurors the "fairness" of the Maroochydore District Court trial was "impaired" by the complainant's delay in reporting alleged sexual assaults.

Mr Ernst is alleged to have committed indecent sexual acts against a girl when she was aged 13 to 16 from December 31, 1989 to June 1994.

The complainant filed a police report in 2017.

As the trial continued into its fourth day, Judge Moynihan summarised the crown and defence cases and the evidence presented.

He said the crown's case "rises and falls on the complainant's evidence" and warned jurors to "carefully scrutinise" this evidence before arriving at any verdict.

He reminded them the burden of proof was on the prosecution to convince them beyond a reasonable doubt that the allegations were truthful.

Judge Moynihan said given the delay the complainant's evidence could not be "adequately tested", and denied the defendant a chance immediately after to assemble evidence of what he had been doing at the time of the alleged acts.

"The fairness of the trial has necessarily been impaired by the delay," Judge Moynihan said.

Throughout the trial, the crown had produced evidence of uncharged acts which they argued demonstrated the defendant's sexual interest in the girl, and that he was "willing to give effect" to that interest. Judge Moynihan directed jurors on how to treat this evidence.

He told jurors they cannot punish the defendant for alleged uncharged sexual acts they are satisfied happened, by finding Mr Ernst guilty of the charges now before the court.

"Remember, even if you are satisfied that some or all of those other uncharged acts did occur, it does not inevitably follow you would find the defendant guilty of the subject charges," Judge Moynihan said.

The jury has retired to deliberate its verdict.