Gympie park ranger felt up 17yo girl who was working for him
A Gympie region widower who worked as a park ranger at Fraser Island has walked from court after pleading guilty to repeated sexual assaults on a girl who was working for him as an au pair.
Ivan Thrash, 54, committed all three offences in a window of about half an hour on a late 2018 afternoon when he was playing a game with the victim and his young son, the Gympie District Court heard this week.
Thrash first laid on top of the girl and "moved suggestively" on top of her before she moved away from him and into the child's bedroom.
Thrash then confronted her again, rubbing her on top of and underneath her clothes, and after tending to his son's toilet needs he rubbed her again on her crotch area and on her breasts.
The victim left the house that evening and later went to police, who approached Thrash. He declined to be interviewed at that time.
Thrash pleaded guilty to three charges of sexual assault in the court, while an additional charge was thrown out.
In sentencing Thrash Judge Glen Cash noted the victim had experienced anxiety and difficulty working alongside men in the workplace since the attacks.
"It constitutes an offence … that involves violence in the sense that it was an assault directed towards this young lady," Judge Cash said.
The court heard Thrash had a "not unblemished" history, but had made "substantial contributions to community" in obtaining a doctorate and working as a ranger in South Africa, as well as Australia.
Thrash had worked as a ranger on Fraser Island and as an auxiliary firefighter in the Rainbow Beach area, and suffered the loss of his wife to cancer earlier in the same year he committed the offences.
Judge Cash said he was satisfied Thrash was remorseful in sentencing him to 9 months' jail suspended immediately for 12 months.