Suffocated, raped and set alight: church leader blames ‘sexual demons’
June 20, 2011 - 2:20PM
A Melbourne church youth leader claimed his rape of an unconscious 14-year-old girl, who he later tried to kill, was prompted by his “sexual demons”.
The Supreme Court was today told that Michael Tuano Hermogenes, 25, suffocated the girl at her home in Caroline Springs in May last year with her stockings after plying her with alcohol.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Grant said that after Hermogenes made the girl unconscious, he raped her and took her body to the bathroom.
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He piled her clothes nearby and went to buy petrol, which he then poured over the girl and around the house.
Hermogenes set the girl and the house on fire after taking photos of her while she was naked and unconscious.
Mr Grant said Hermogenes put the girl’s mobile phone, laptop and the home phone on the stove and used aerosols around the house in an attempt to make the fire larger.
The court heard that the attack was motivated by a desire to conceal the rape.
Earlier that day, Hermogenes had made arrangements to meet the girl and brought several stubbies of alcohol with him to her house.
Hermogenes has pleaded guilty to five charges stemming from the attack — one each of rape, production of child pornography, attempted murder, arson and theft — as well as one count of indecent assault and one of theft, both of which arise from separate incidents.
Justice Paul Coghlan noted that the case was one of the worst examples of attempted murder, and if the girl had died, Hermogenes would most likely have been facing a life jail term.
He said it was only because of the intervention of passers-by and of doctors that the girl had lived.
When arrested, Hermogenes told police that he had set fire to the house and the girl for “self-preservation” and claimed he was “possessed” by “sexual demons”.
Defence counsel Peter Chadwick, SC, said Hermogenes, a youth minister with a church in Melbourne’s west, was extremely remorseful for his actions and urged Justice Coghlan not to impose a “crushing” sentence on his young client.
Mr Chadwick said Hermogenes brought the alcohol to the girl after she asked to try alcohol. But Justice Coghlan said that the amount he brought to her implied that Hermogenes’ motives were to get her drunk.
Mr Grant said the girl suffered serious injuries, including burns to 50 per cent of her body. She will be permanently scarred and faces limited employment options and an inability to ever drive.
She struggles to bring her hand to her mouth and cannot eat, sit or stand without help. Her mother has had to quit work to care for her.
The girl spent almost 12 months in hospital, one of which was in an induced coma.
Hermogenes was remanded for sentence next week.” —The Age