The wife of a Northlander accused of preying on young girls for sexual favours in exchange for gifts has told a jury she did not see any inappropriate behaviour from him towards the girls.
Cheryl Sanders gave evidence for the defence in the Whangarei District Court yesterday in the trial of her husband Brian Sanders, 68, who is facing 38 charges, including counts of rape and indecent assault, allegedly committed against 13 complainants at Doubtless Bay and Bream Bay between 1998 and 2013.
Sanders faces 15 charges of indecent assault on a child aged between 12 and 16, one of indecent assault, three of rape, 15 of sexual conduct with a child under 12, two of sexual conduct with a young person under 16 and two of unlawful sexual connection.
The alleged offending happened when Sanders was president of the Bream Bay branch of the Latter Day Saints Church and when he helped his wife run an after-school programme in the Far North.
The Crown case is Sanders used his trusted position in the community to prey on vulnerable young girls, exchanging gifts such as pet rabbits, cigarettes, chocolates, clothing and money in exchange for his sexual gratification and their silence. But his wife told the jury yesterday she did not see any inappropriate behaviour from her husband towards the girls. Mrs Sanders said she had also never seen her husband drink alcohol or suspected him of drinking.
On claims by a complainant Sanders kept a blue diary, his wife said she would be very surprised if he had one because he could not fill out a form.
Defence lawyer Chris Muston asked her about a black diary a complainant claimed he kept which detailed alcohol Sanders bought. Mrs Sanders said there was no such details recorded.
When asked whether Sanders drank alcohol, she said she had not seen him drink alcohol and never found any alcohol bottles lying around.
Earlier while giving evidence, Sanders emphatically denied inappropriately touching or having sex with any of the complainants.
"I've never touched a girl intentionally. I've never done anything to a child to get sexual gratification," he said.
The lawyers are expected to make their closing submissions either tomorrow or on Friday.