Inside the marathon eight-week trial that pitted swim teacher Kyle Daniels, 22, against nine young girls who accused him of putting his hands down their swimmers and the key evidence that left a jury deadlocked

 


Kyle James Henk Daniels, 22, will face re-trial on sexual assault charges next year

After the trial lasting more than eight weeks, the jury was discharged on Monday

Daniels was accused of sexually touching nine girls at the Mosman Swim Centre

A jury of eight men and four women could only agree on actions against one girl

They found him not-guilty on five of all 26 counts, leaving 21 charges unresolved



A swim teacher is fighting the battle of his life as he tries to free himself of sexual fumbling of 9 female young students under his tutelage.

According to daily mail, ever since Kyle James Henk Daniels was led out of his family's home in handcuffs in early 2019, there has been an intense fascination with his case.   

A star sportsman and former prefect at Sydney's prestigious Knox Grammar school, Daniels was accused of sexually touching young girls while working as a swim coach on the lower north shore.

The allegations were confronting, including claims he had pushed one girl's private parts so hard it hurt.

Another young girl complained that Daniels' finger felt like a 'worm' inside her.

In total, the tall and tanned 22-year-old was charged with sexually assaulting nine young girls he taught at Mosman Swim Centre in 2018 and 2019. 

 All of the alleged victims gave pre-recorded evidence telling how Daniels touched them during their lessons.

Daniels pleaded not guilty from the outset and himself faced the jury to vehemently deny any wrongdoing.

'I have never touched any student inside their swimmers,' he told the court

But apart from his interactions with one young girl, the jury could not reach a decision.

NSW District Court judge Kara Shead discharged the jury on Monday after more than eight weeks inside the same courtroom.

They had heard evidence from the girls and their parents, police officers, swimming teachers, child psychologists and finally Daniels himself.

But still they could not agree.

Daniels' barrister Leslie Nicholls said said his client had been waiting for a chance to clear his name ever since the university student was arrested on March 12, 2019. 

But despite his denials, Crown Prosecutor Karl Prince said his testimony was not the most important of the trial.

That, he said, lay with the nine girls who alleged Daniels had touched them.

THE NINE GIRLS

The first of the nine girls to give evidence said she came home from her lesson with Daniels and wanted to tell her parents about her encounter, but felt uneasy.

Instead she wrote a note to her mother and delivered it to her as she lay in bed.

The note read: 'The reason I didn't like my swimming lesson was because my teacher touched my ________.' 

The missing word was 'swimmers', the court heard.

 The eight-year-old - who cannot be identified - was interviewed by Detective Senior Constable Emma Stewart and asked more than 300 questions. 

'My teacher used to be called Kyle [Daniels] but we moved [classes],' the girl said.

'He accidentally touched my part where you're not allowed to. It was this year [2019] and he did it twice, so we got a new teacher.'

When asked why she thought it was an 'accident', the young girl replied innocently.

'Well why would he want to have done it on purpose?' she said. 

One young girl told the court that Daniels' finger felt like a 'worm' inside her. 

Another claimed he had pushed her private parts 'hard and it hurt'. 

The youngest of the nine girls claimed that as she kicked off a wall, Daniels 'pushed me in a place that didn't feel right'.

Another claimed Daniels would pull her swimmers and put his hands in holes were her legs went. 

In his own evidence, Daniels admitted that in training to become a teacher he was taught that the groin was a 'no-go zone' when holding students.

'Yet nine little girls have said he has done just that,' Mr Prince alleged.

'It was brazen, the Crown submits to you, deliberate touching... it could only have been done for his own sexual gratification in each instance.

'Common sense... [says] that the complainants are telling you the truth.' 

THE DANIELS DEFENCE 

Daniels' barrister Mr Nicholls offered up several possible explanations as to how a young, well educated man like his client could end up on trial for charges he denies. 

Mr Nicholls claimed the accusations against Daniels began only after he stopped wearing contact lenses in the pool, meaning it could have been that his glasses had fogged up or been splashed on, leading to his vision being impaired.

He also claimed some parents may have been so disgusted by the nature of Daniels' alleged offences after they became public that they would do 'anything' to convict him.

He accused police of wanting to make an example out of Daniels and said a decision to set up a NSW Police media team member outside the Daniels family's home to video him as he was led away in handcuffs was evidence of this. 

The court heard Det Snr Const Stewart - the officer in charge of the investigation -had pre-prepared statements for their parents to fill out and told one mother she felt 'privileged' to be running the investigation.

Mr Nicholls claimed the evidence had been 'contaminated', but Mr Prince disagreed.  

Det Snr Const Stewart was also accused by Mr Nicholls of trying to coerce the answers she wanted out of the children. 

Two female child psychologists gave evidence towards the end of the trial and told the court that child memories were not as easily influenced as adult memories. 

But they both agreed that leading questions - such as those Det Snr Const Stewart was accused of using by Mr Nicholls - can influence answers.

Questions asked more than once - something that also occurred during the police interviews - could also have an impact, as children believe they must have given a wrong answer, the court heard. 

THE ADULTS

The manager of the Mosman Swim Centre, who was contacted by the parents of the first girl to complain of being touched by Daniels, said the mother and father were of the opinion the incidents must have been 'accidental'.

She said parents were initially 'thankful' to hear Daniels was 'not a 40-year-old man'. 

But by the time the matters came to trial the attitudes of some parents had changed.

At times during cross-examination from Mr Nicholls the courtroom was nothing short of a hostile environment.

At one point, a tearful mother stormed out of the court in the middle of questioning.

She returned after a short break to continue giving evidence on the night her young daughter alleged Daniels had touched her.

Another woman whose two daughters were among Daniels' nine alleged victims was steadfast when asked during a tense exchange by Mr Nicholls whether she was lying.

'Madam are you making this up?' Mr Nicholls asked.

'No,' the woman responded. 

Daniels' defence relied on convincing the jury that inconsistencies in the evidence of the young girls, their parents and police, was enough doubt to acquit him.

Mr Nicholls pointed to a mother who initially said her daughter claimed Daniels had touched her on the 'bottom', but later changed her police statement to say 'vagina'.

'She was clearly motivated by bias against the accused,' he said.

But at the time of giving her evidence the mother explained the two words showed the different ways she discussed the claims with her daughter.

'Changing the terminology from bottom to vagina does not change anything about the truth of this statement and I stand by signing the copy with the changed terms,' the woman said.

'It (bottom) was the language that I used with a six year old.'

Other parents struggled to remember exactly when they had lessons with Daniels, or said dates on which Daniels was not working. 

Mr Nicholls told the jury in his closing that whether the parents had 'embellished' or 'fabricated' their evidence, either way 'it comes at too high a price' for Daniels.  

THE OUTCOME 

But while admitting to minor inconsistencies in evidence from parents, children or police, Mr Prince denied any were a big enough deal to overturn their verdict - had they considered Daniels guilty. 

In his closing Mr Prince admitted the defence may have made 'valid arguments' that showed inconsistencies, but reinforced that he believed it was not the crucial point.

'The main evidence has been and always will be the evidence of each complainant,' he said

The jury was quick to find Daniels of not-guilty on five of 26 counts, leaving 21 charges unresolved

But by the time the jury sent a note to Judge Shead on Monday, the jury was down to 10 after one juror was discharged for living on Sydney's northern beaches and another so they could rush interstate for Christmas.

Those remaining said that in 'considered and absolute terms' there was 'no prospect of agreement' on the remaining 21 charges.

The judge, Crown Prosecutor and Daniels' barrister agreed.  

Another group of 12 will likely now be sought to answer the same question in 2021. 

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