‘Broken’: Former candidate’s rape victim speaks out
A teenage girl described herself as a "broken piece of glass" unable to go back to shape after a former political candidate was found guilty of raping and indecently treating her.
Joey Myer indecently treated the girl, then 14, he had trained in his position as a personal trainer on seven occasions between October 1, 2018 and January 6, 2019.
He also raped the teen on January 4, 2019.
After more than eight hours of deliberations the jury delivered their guilty verdict for all 12 offences on Thursday afternoon.
Myer had pleaded not guilty in the Maroochydore District Court on Monday, the first day of the trial, to 11 counts of indecently treating a child under 16 and one count of rape.
The now 16-year-old girl cried when she heard the verdict and later read her victim impact statement to the court.
"The day he first laid his hands on me was the day I lost my voice and I still haven't gained it back and I know I won't for a long time," she said.
"Going through something like this changes the way you see and hear the world and it becomes a very dark and lonely place.
"You struggle to see the positive aspects of life and how yours is worth living, you feel alone in a room full of people that tell you they love you.
"I saw myself as broken glass, once it's broken you can never put it back in its original shape … I will forever be changed."
She said she felt forced to stay quiet and feared financial assistance and job prospects promised to her family by Myer would be taken away.
She spoke on how her trauma had impacted her education and schooling experience as well as her family life.
"The relationship I have with my family has been affected severely after the truth came out and it won't ever be the same again," she said.
"I felt ashamed about what had happened, I didn't want my parents to be disappointed in me.
"I couldn't hug my mum goodnight; I couldn't tell my dad that no matter what had happened he's the best dad and I was still his little girl."
Crown Prosecutor Christopher Cook described the offending as predatory, persistent, and put the teen in a position where she felt powerless and unable to tell anyone.
"He was not only grooming … (the girl), but that family with his lies he was telling them about all this money and things that were going on," he said.
"He seems to be an intelligent man according to that report (psychologist report) and that perhaps goes into the manipulation that he was able to use particularly with … (the girl), but perhaps also the other family members."
Mr Cook said many of the offences were worsened by Myer's disregard for the girl's pleas to stop and her pain and stress.
"His motivation was clearly his own sexual gratification," he said.
"Mr Myer betrayed the trust he had set up with this family, he manipulated them (and) the evidence seemed to show he is very self-indulgent."
Mr Cook told the court the now 37-year-old previously spent time behind bars and had an invasion offence on his criminal history.
He used three unrelated court cases to justify his suggested sentence of more than eight years in prison.
Defence barrister Scott Neaves said the cases used by Mr Cook to explain his sentence suggestion were related to younger kids and involved offending on family members.
He suggested an eight-year jail sentence was appropriate.
Mr Neaves said a dated psychologist report showed Myer had challenges with communicating and intimate connections and suggested they could make his time in prison "relatively difficult".
He said Myer, who ran for the seat of Fisher in the 2013 federal election, had a strong following as a personal trainer and was working at the time of the offending.
"Mr Myer … was offering other training outside of the gym otherwise meaningful participating in the community so far as training people for free assisting them in terms of their purists of physical benefit in my submission that's in his favour," he said.
Mr Neaves asked Judge Brad Farr to consider Myer's 787 days of pre-sentence custody, some of which had been done during COVID-19.
Mr Farr commended the girl for her evidence and told Myer he had caused her and her family "untold grief".
He said while the period in which the offending was done was not long in comparison to other cases, he had no doubt it was an "extraordinary long time" for the girl to endure.
"You preyed upon the complainant … you were treating her in a way that was demonstrably grooming her for sexual interactions with yourself all of which was designed to satisfy your own perverted sexual gratification," he said.
Myer was sentenced to eight years and six months jail.
His pre-sentence custody was noted as time served under the sentence.
A non-contact order between him and the girl was also ordered.*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.