A horse breeder accused of sexually assaulting five young female backpackers during a farm stay with him on a remote property near Goulburn has told the NSW District Court his sexual relationship with one of the complainants – an 18-year-old German backpacker – was “consensual”.
Providing testimony in Sydney District Court on Monday, 10 May, Gregory Richard Douglas, 69, from Peelwood, said the pair often gave each other massages during the German national’s first stay, in September 2016, and that their massages were better described as “foreplay”.
The pair also took part in consensual sexual intercourse at “nearly every opportunity”, Mr Douglas told the jury.
He described the German national’s testimony – which said all forms of sexual intercourse, including digital penetration and cunnilingus during massages, were assaults – as “rubbish”.
The woman previously told the jury “it felt wrong” when he sexually touched her during massages and that she would often make up excuses to avoid massages, including that she was too tired, but that he would tell her he would make the massage shorter or laugh at her for not wanting it.
However, Mr Douglas said he wasn’t “easily fooled” and that he thought “God had sent me an angel” to help him with farm work.
Yet during questioning from his barrister, Andrew Norrie, Mr Douglas was unable to describe intimate details about their sexual relationship.
“Do I have to do this?” asked Mr Douglas. “I don’t like talking about this.”
To which Mr Norrie responded, “Yes.”
Following a five-minute break, Mr Douglas returned to providing testimony when he divulged the sexual massages included “slipping around on each other”.
“She would wriggle on my buttocks with her genitalia – we were both naked,” he said.
Mr Douglas said the pair spent their first three days together “talking and realising how much kindred spirits we were because everything we liked were similar”.
He said he offered the German national a massage early on because “she was not walking freely” and that the massages became sexual “very quickly”.
“Within about the first week, we couldn’t call them massages anymore – they had to be foreplay,” he said.
Mr Douglas also said the German national would massage him first so he could “give her a better massage”.
“She would sit on my glutes – we used oil,” he said.
Mr Douglas said the woman would also sexually touch him and perform oral sex on him.
The pair engaged in sexual intercourse once during the German national’s first stay, and regularly when she visited the farm and he regularly visited her in Queensland in hotels and Airbnbs after 2016, said Mr Douglas.
Photos shown to the jury during the woman’s testimony showed the pair posing happily for selfies on a Queensland beach and during a trip to Canberra.
Mr Douglas said she encouraged him and that he could tell from the way her body responded that she enjoyed the sexual intercourse.
He has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual intercourse without consent, relating to digital penetration; six counts of sexually touching another person without consent; and four counts of assault with an act of indecency, relating to multiple women between 2014 and 2019.
The women, aged between 18 and 27, from Germany, Japan and Australia, all told the jury the assaults took place during massages Mr Douglas said were necessary because of the physical work they were doing.
In his opening statement in the trial of Mr Douglas, Crown prosecutor Adrian Robertson told jurors the women would often “give in” to the massages after Mr Douglas had persisted for days or weeks.
The women often felt scared to say no because they were unable to call for help from the remote farm, and some were relying on Mr Douglas to sign the paperwork for their working holiday visas, said Mr Robertson.
The farm stays were organised through Willing Workers on Organic Farms and the American Institute for Foreign Study, according to facts tendered in court. The women would volunteer on the farm – which mostly involved caring for horses – in return for food and accommodation provided by Mr Douglas.
The trial continues.