A jury heard lengthy silences yesterday as a young complainant was called to testify in the trial of a caregiver alleged to have sexually abused disabled children in his care.

The male defendant, who cannot be named, is standing trial in the Napier District Court this week after allegedly abusing children and youth with significant impairments and disabilities over the course of several years.

Yesterday a youth in his care struggled as she told the court the man sexually touched her for the first time when she was 10-years-old and that this touching soon progressed to full intercourse.

The man is charged with five counts of sexually exploiting a person with a significant impairment, six of rape, two of indecent assault and three each of attempted sexual violation and sexual conduct with a child under 12-years-old.

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On Monday Crown prosecutor Jo Rielly opened the Crown's case by telling the jury the four complainants were each placed in the man's care by a variety of agencies including Child, Youth and Family and Idea Services.

At times they were left in the sole care of the defendant and it was during these periods that he sexually abused them, she said.

The youth, who lived with the man during the alleged offending, told the jury she came to expect he would want to have sex with her when she was left in the sole care of him.

When asked by Ms Rielly to detail the sexual abuse the girl hung her head as the court sat in silence.

"Is it hard to talk about?" Ms Rielly asked. The girl replied yes.

She went on to describe feeling confused when the man touched her privates and that he had attempted to have sex with her numerous times before full intercourse was reached.

One time when he was touching her a light flicked on outside the house, she said.

"He quickly shut the blind, put his pants back on and ran into the lounge."

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She told the court she had also seen the man having sexual relations with two others at the house; one with physical and intellectual disabilities so severe she can't speak.

Under cross-examination defence lawyer Scott Jefferson put to the girl that her allegations were not correct and that she had not initially told police the extent of the alleged offending.

She cried as she insisted, "No they did happen. I was too scared [to tell]."

The trial before Judge Bridget Mackintosh is continuing and expected to last the week.