"Great excitement" prevailed in Kiama in March 1871 when a Jamberoo man named Thomas appeared before the court on a charge of raping 16-year-old Christina Blackwood.
Christina had been riding home from a store when she met Thomas, a man of "more than 50 years", whom she had only spoken to once previously.
"He asked me to go amongst the tussocks; I did not know what he wanted with me. I went with him [and] he asked me to lie down and I did so," she told the court.
"I wish the defendant to be punished for committing such a crime … I did not consent to his taking liberties with me."
The court heard that Christina was "a virtuous girl, rather simple and by coaxing she may be brought to do anything".
Dr Harman J. Tarrant said that on examination of the girl's body, "there were about certain parts internal indications that she had been tampered with". He added that she appeared to be a girl possessed of ordinary intellect, "but very deficient in modesty".
The bench dismissed the charge, but suggested that Thomas make the girl some reparation "for the injury he had done her".
A more severe penalty was handed down when William Burns and John Joseph Mack appeared before Sydney's Central Police Court in April 11, 1877, charged with raping 14-year-old Charlotte Matthews.
Charlotte, who was in service, had visited her sick mother and stayed the night.
She slept fully clothed in the back room, her mother in the front room, and two siblings in a room upstairs.
She was awoken by the children screaming, "Mother, Billy Burns is up here".
A match was struck in Charlotte's room and she saw Burns with a knife in his hand.
He took hold of her, and after some struggling, threw her on the floor, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"Prisoner Mack came to Burns' assistance; Mack held her hands and Burns committed the offence," the paper reported.
At their trial the following month, Burns and Mack pleaded not guilty to rape, but the jury found both guilty.
"His Honour, in addressing the prisoners, remarked upon the atrocity of the offence and the manner in which they had set about it," the paper said.
"He saw no mitigating circumstances in the case [and] concluded by sentencing both prisoners to death, and they were removed from the dock."
Picture: An early photograph of Kiama, with the Kiama Courthouse at centre, where a trial took place for the alleged rape in 1871 of a teenager. The court dismissed the charge. Picture courtesy of the collections of the Wollongong City Library and the Illawarra Historical Society
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