Former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes has told a court his friendship with an alleged victim’s mother faltered because the woman was sexually pursuing his wife.
Hughes said it was not because her daughter had disclosed his alleged sexual abuse.
The actor has pleaded not guilty to 11 sexual and indecent assault charges dating back to the 1980s and 1990s.
After weeks of prosecution evidence in which Sydney’s District Court has heard claims he abused five girls, the 65-year-old has now begun to tell his version of events.
Under cross-examination on Friday, Hughes agreed that he and his wife Robyn Gardiner regularly visited a good friend’s Sydney home for barbecues and parties.
But he emphatically denied ever going into a bedroom where his friend’s daughter slept and rubbing his hand against her vagina.
And though he agreed the barbecue invitations dried up after the girl decided to stay home from a joint family holiday, Hughes says this was because the child’s mother took an interest in Ms Gardiner.
“She was showing an interest in having sex with (my wife),” Hughes said on Friday.
“I had observed that she was wanting to spend more time with Robyn in close physical proximity … we made the decision that it would be better all round if we did not socialise with them anymore because it was upsetting to Robyn.”
Crown prosecutor Gina O’Rourke suggested that before the families’ friendship soured, Hughes had swum naked in the girl’s family pool and started “touching, grabbing and caressing” her underwater.
“I suggest that you did it to gauge her reaction, (to) see if she would yell out or complain to a parent or other adult,” Ms O’Rourke said.
“I did not,” Hughes said loudly.
“And I suggest to you that if she did, you could explain it away as just inadvertent,” the prosecutor went on.
“I suggest to you that (she) did not yell out, and that encouraged you to move on to more serious touching.”
Hughes was emphatic in his denials, sometimes looking toward the jury and shaking his head.
His evidence continues on Monday.