|August 10, 1999||
Umpire Randell found guilty on 15 sex charges
Veteran Australian cricket umpire Steve Randell was found guilty on 15 of 17 charges of indecent assault against nine young schoolgirls in the Tasmanian Supreme Court today.
A jury of nine men and three women deliberated for more than six hours before finding Randell guilty of fondling the girls when he was a teacher at a school in Burnie on the north west Tasmanian coast between 1981 and 1982.
The girls were aged between 10 and 12 at the time.
Five of the women who gave evidence against Randell were in court today to hear the verdict.
''It was very tough on us, our friends and family,'' one of them said outside the court.
A crowd of onlookers cheered and raised their fingers giving the ''out'' signal as Randell was driven away to jail, shielded behind the darkened windows of a police van.
The women had testified Randell befriended them and their families when they were girls, using a mixture of trust and fear to manipulate them.
He visited some of their houses on the pretence of establishing a parent-teacher relationship but then molested the daughters in their bedrooms, they said.
They gave evidence he put his hand up their skirts or shirts, fondled them and made them masturbate him.
Randell told the court he was a ''touchy-feely person'' but denied sexually abusing the girls.
''As a rule, I am an affectionate type of person -- that would be no surprise -- but I do not touch people,'' he told the court.
Randell was impassive as the verdicts were read out.
Of the 15 guilty verdicts, 10 were unanimous and five were majority decisions of at least 10 jurors.
Randell will be sentenced on Friday. Indecent assault carries a maximum penalty in Tasmania of 21 years in jail. He may still face another 14 charges if prosecutor Mike Stodart decides to proceed with charges of indecent assault against four girls and a teenage boy.
Mail Sports Editor
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