A six-year-old girl pleaded with her mother not to get her swim teacher “in trouble” after showing her where he allegedly touched her on the vagina, a jury has heard.
The girl’s mother told the NSW District Court on Friday afternoon that her daughter said “it wasn’t his fault” because he “can’t see properly”.
“He has glasses on so he doesn’t know where he’s putting his hands,” the mother recalled her daughter saying. “He didn’t mean to do it.”
“She was at this point was quite stressed. Anxious and stressed about getting him in trouble.”
She is among nine young girls who say Kyle Daniels touched them as he taught at Mosman Swim Centre between February 2018 and March 2019.
Mr Daniels, 22, has pleaded not guilty to 26 charges and strenuously denies the allegations.
The girl was five at the time of the alleged touch in June 2018 and nervous about meeting her new swimming teacher, the court heard.
To help ease her worries, her father said, he sat on the edge of the pool half a metre away for the first five minutes of the lesson and watched her start her first lap.
This is the moment the girl says Mr Daniels touched her, according to a pre-recorded police interview played to the jury on Friday.
“I was just about to go into the pool and he pushed me off when I was doing the first lap, and he accidentally pushed me in a place that didn’t feel right,” she told Detective Emma Stewart on March 15 last year.
Her father said he did not see anything untoward.
When he asked his daughter “How was the lesson?” she replied “The teacher touched my bottom”, he said.
“I thought it was a bit of a strange response at the time,” he told the court. “I said, ‘I’m sure it was just an accident’.”
But he said he was later wracked with guilt after Mr Daniels was charged on March 12 and he recognised him in news stories.
The girl’s mother said she sat down with her daughter the day after the arrest and asked her if she remembered telling them her teacher had touched her on the bottom.
“I said ‘Can you show me where he touched you?’,” she recalled.
“She stood up from the sofa and put her hand onto the front of her vagina. I said ‘That’s not your bottom’.”
The mother was questioned by Mr Daniels’ barrister Leslie Nicholls about why she hadn’t given this statement until February 2020, when her husband had given a statement in March 2019.
“I never refused to go in for a statement,” she said.
She denied Det. Stewart had asked her to change “bottom” to “vagina”.
She also pushed back on Mr Nicholls’ suggestion that she was “reciting” memorised lines from her statement about the conversation.
“I’m trying to remember it to the best of my ability,” she said.
The mother agreed she had shown her daughter a photo of Mr Daniels from the media the night before her police interview.
The girl initially told Det. Stewart she did not have a name for the part of her body Mr Daniels touched, but eventually identified it as her “tinkle”.
She understood this to be her vagina, but would call her vagina her bottom as well, her father said.
The father agreed his statement did not mention that by “bottom” his daughter had in fact meant her “tinkle”.
He did not recall his wife telling him about the conversation she had with their daughter.
As the father agreed he did not see anything during the lesson, he added: “Although with the water being disrupted it’s very difficult to see under the water line.”
Asked why he had “sought to explain” his answer, the father said: “I guess I didn’t like the concept that I’m a father who stood by and did nothing.”
“I think there’s always a guilt attached to a father who doesn’t do the right thing,” he said.
“On your own evidence you are doing the right thing, aren’t you?” Mr Nicholls said.
“You’ve got a daughter who’s nervous. You’re half a metre away, You’re intensely watching her. The simple fact is that you didn’t see anything.”
“That’s right,” the father replied.
The girl was the first to have her evidence played out of six who came forward with touching allegations following Mr Daniels’ arrest on March 12, 2019.
Three other girls — two sisters whose allegations led to Mr Daniels being charged and another girl who first complained in mid-2018 — have already had their evidence played in court.
The trial continues.
Originally published as ‘He can’t see’: Girl’s anxiety after alleged touch