James Robert Eaton – A sexual fiend’s 45-year reign ends

AN 83-year-old yachtsman has been found guilty of sexually abusing eight young boys over a 45-year-period.

A jury found James Robert Eaton, of Triabunna, molested the boys in sex attacks dating back to 1957.

A unanimous verdict of guilty was handed down for each of the nine offences he faced.

The Supreme Court in Hobart had heard Eaton would befriend the parents of the boys and gain their trust.

He would then spend time alone with the boys — often on his boats.

The jury was told Eaton would lavish gifts on his victims and work with them on carpentry projects.

Crown prosecutor Michael Stoddart said there was a period of grooming in which Eaton would act as a sexual educator.

When the child reached puberty, Mr Stoddart said, the abuse would end.

One victim had told the court he became friends with Eaton over James Bond movies and fishing trips.

He said the abuse had begun when he was just eight and finished when he was a teenager and became confused about the abuse.

Justice Alan Blow told the jury before they began their deliberations they needed to consider whether there was any reasonable explanations for the similarities the victims described.

“It is open to you to conclude there are striking similarities,” he said.

“In that situation you are entitled to use that line of reasoning.”

He said the jury should be cautious about why the complaints of abuse had taken so long to surface.

He suggested shyness, feelings of guilt and age could all be a factor in why a boy would be hesitant to complain.

The judge said whether the victims’ evidence was dishonest, a result of misunderstanding or false memories should be carefully considered.

The jury took 2½ hours to find Eaton guilty on three counts of indecent assault and six counts of maintaining a sexual relationship with a person under 17.

The abuse occurred between 1957 and 2002 at Trevallyn, Mornington, Triabunna and Launceston.

Justice Blow adjourned the sentencing submissions until tomorrow afternoon.

Published in: on April 15, 2008 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment