Maitland's Erin Jones says she felt broken and suffered a breakdown in the years after being sexually abused as a child by former tennis coach Todd Ramsey Woods.
Woods, who ran a tennis coaching business in the East Maitland area, appeared before Newcastle District Court on Friday for a sentence hearing.
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The court heard that the abuse involved numerous instances of Woods inciting the girl to touch his genitals, beginning when she was 14.
Offences occurred in the car when he was driving her to or from tennis competitions, work and school, along with the tennis pro shop.
Woods, 58, of Kellyville in Sydney, pleaded guilty to incitement to commit an aggravated act of indecency against a person aged under 16 years old who was under his authority.
He abused Ms Jones, now 37, when he coached her in the late 1990s.
Judge Tim Gartelmann, SC, adjourned the matter for a sentence assessment report from Community Corrections.
Woods' defence barrister, Philip Boulten, SC, argued for a community corrections order instead of jail.
Crown prosecutor Samuel Burton sought a jail term for Woods.
Ms Jones read a victim impact statement to the court, saying she battled a "chronic sense of emptiness".
"Underneath it all, I have felt and still feel broken. I have felt like this for so long now that it seems like normality," she said.
She had struggled with alcohol and drug use, gambling, disordered eating, excessive exercise, overachieving and perfectionism.
"I have suffered from severe anxiety and depression for which I have been medicated. I have experienced episodes of extreme anger and rage. I have had thoughts of taking my own life," she said.
"About five years ago, I had what I now recognise as a physical and mental breakdown. I was unable to work for a year."
She said Woods' actions had a profound effect on her life.
"I looked up to Todd. I trusted him. He should have protected me. But he took advantage of me. My first intimate experiences occurred in the context of a relationship where he held the power," she said.
"I have grieved for the loss of a relationship with Todd, in which I thought he loved and cared for me. Having to accept that he exploited me has been devastating."
Things could have been different.
"I should have been able to look back fondly on both Todd and tennis. Todd had such an opportunity to be a positive role model in my life," she said.
"My first real love of a sport should have been a positive experience. But instead, Todd robbed so much time and so many experiences from me. I feel great sadness over that loss. I mourn for the 11-year-old Erin. I lost something as a child that my whole life cannot fulfil."
Keeping a secret for almost half her childhood had consequences.
Recently, her mum and dad asked her: "Have people asked you why we didn't protect you?"
"This breaks my heart, as they have doubted their ability as parents and still suffer so much guilt. They trusted him and happily let me be in his care due to his respected position in the community. Todd didn't just take advantage of me, he also took advantage of them," she said.
Mr Boulten said his client was "not a paedophile".
"It's not like he needs to go to a sex offenders program," Mr Boulten said.
He said Woods was "off the rails" in "one period of his life".
The charges against him caused him to lose his coaching academy business, which had 70 staff and now a $1 million tax bill.
He argued that Woods' offences against Ms Jones were an "aberration".
He said Woods felt remorse and "there's a body of evidence he is rehabilitated".
"He is not a danger to the community," he said.
Ms Jones reported Woods to police in July 2017. Detectives charged him in July 2020. She has a vague memory of her life before she met Woods.
"I remember a sense of comfort and happiness. I lived with my Mum, Dad and younger brother. We were a close family. I was especially close to Mum. I loved school."
In the years after the offences, she struggled with sleep and disordered eating.
"There was tension between my parents and this developed into a significant rift. I ran away from home several times. I struggled at school," she said.
She first met Woods when she was 11 at a tennis coaching clinic at primary school.
"He singled me out for praise. He encouraged me to take up tennis. I was made to believe tennis was something I could be good at.
"I nagged my parents about it and they relented. I started tennis lessons the following year with my brother at Todd Woods Tennis Coaching at the courts near my home."
Woods encouraged her to play competition and she came to love tennis.
"I spent at least three days a week at those tennis courts for the next six years of my life. As a consequence, I spent an increasing amount of time with Todd.
"Todd spoke to me as an equal. He gave me lots of his attention and time. I talked a lot. He listened. I liked being around him. When I was around him I felt like a grown-up.
"Over time I came to think of him as a friend. Just like any other adult in my life who I admired and trusted, I wanted his approval. I wanted him to be proud of me."
Woods offered her a job working in the pro-shop. He arranged for her to play at school holiday tournaments.
"Occasionally, he would drive past when I was walking to tennis, pick me up and take me the rest of the way. He actively sought out my company. We started to have secrets," she said.
"He would ask me to help him pick the winner for a greyhound or horse race from the newspaper. We would regularly speak at length on my home landline. I developed a crush.
"So, when Todd sat on a stool facing me, with his legs wide apart, daring me to come closer, suggesting I wouldn't be brave enough to do so, I did what he asked. I was 13, he was 34."
When Woods continued showing a sexual interest in her, "it was exciting at first".
"When he regularly began rubbing his erect penis against me, whilst also placing his hands on my arms or waist, I thought it meant something special," she said.
"When this physical contact developed even further during car trips together, I started to think of him as my boyfriend."
She said Woods told her: "Don't tell anyone, otherwise we won't be able to continue our special friendship".
Mr Boulten told the court he disagreed that his client groomed Ms Jones in the sense of identifying her "as a potential victim". But Mr Burton said the offender "deliberately fostered the relationship". He said the loss of Woods' business was a "predicted outcome" if his offending was made public.
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