Two women who were abused as children by a man they thought they could trust have spoken out and urged other victims to come forward, both those affected by their abuser as well as other victims of childhood trauma.
Speaking outside Wollongong courthouse, the two women, who cannot be named, said there was hope for those who had suffered sexual abuse as they had.
"He put us through a really difficult time, put a big impact on our family, tore it apart, but then we've come together stronger and I hope if anyone else is out there that has the same issue, to come forward and get a bit of closure," one victim said.
Their abuser, Miguel Enoc Guevara, was sentenced in Wollongong District Court to 11 years behind bars for sexually assaulting four girls between the ages of 9 and 15.
A second victim said the sentence enabled her to heal.
"I'm extremely happy with the outcome," she said. "I encourage anyone that's ever gone through something in this situation and not felt like they could believe in themselves, that they should pursue it."
In a victim impact statement delivered by her godmother, another victim said she could never express how much damage Guevara had done but had emerged a stronger and independent young woman.
"Today I am stronger than ever, from this day forward my life will no longer be based around this situation."
Guevara was found guilty in August by a jury of 13 counts of child sexual abuse, including aggravated indecent assault, committing an act of indecency and one count of sexual intercourse with a child between 10 and 14 years old.
Guevara was acquitted of two other charges.
Guevara's offending stretched over a period of seven years and, as Judge Andrew Haesler outlined, was committed when he was in a position of trust, being friends with the girls' mothers and entrusted with their care.
"He exploited the trust that had been shown to him," Judge Haesler said.
The court heard that Guevara, 49, grew up in El Salvador, where as a child he was abducted by the military and conscripted into being a child soldier.
At times, Guevara would flee the military, returning home from as far away as Mexico sickly and unwell.
After threats were made to his family, Guevara fled with his parents and siblings to Australia, where he settled in Wollongong as a refugee.
As an adult, Guevara worked as a builder and amateur musician, performing under the moniker MikeyOz.
However, Judge Haesler said these activities masked the abuse that Guevara directed towards girls in his care.
"He was to everyone a man of good character, [but] he led a second life which included the exploitation of those children," he said.
The abuse occurred in the girls' homes or places where Guevara had control, including his car and a boat.
Guevara exploited the trust the girls' mothers placed in him and exposed the pre-pubescent girls to sexual activity for his own satisfaction.
Prior to his trial, Guevara pleaded not guilty, and maintained these pleas throughout, not accepting responsibility or expressing any remorse.
Judge Haesler sentenced Guevara to an aggregate sentence of 11 years with a non-parole period of seven years and two months. With time already served, Guevara will be eligible for release from September 22, 2030.
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