Sydney dancing teacher Grant Davies has been sentenced to 24 years in jail for multiple child sex offences against nine victims, with the judge imposing a non-parole period of 18 years.
- Davies sexually abused nine students at his now-defunct RG Dance studio
- He was arrested when his wife reported him after finding messages he sent to an underage girl
- He groomed students, and sometimes their mothers, obtaining pictures of girls naked
Davies pleaded guilty last year to child pornography and sexual abuse charges for crimes against former students from his now-defunct RG Dance studio in Sydney’s inner west.
On Friday, he looked directly at the judge as graphic details of his sexual abuse were read out.
Davies began sexually abusing one student when she was just 10 years old, with the abuse continuing for a number of years.
In sentencing Davies to a minimum of 18 years in jail, Judge Jennie Girdham said his crimes were made worse by the fact he was in a position of authority.
She described his behaviour as predatory and persistent.
‘Diverse acts’ perpetrated on boys and girls
Judge Girdham told the court that Davies’ offending covered “diverse acts with nine children” of both genders.
“The vast selection of sexual text messages, pornographic pictures and video material reveal the intensity and the extended duration of the offender’s activity with his victims,” she said.
“The offender started by sophisticated grooming of children, which over time escalated to sexual activity.”
The court heard that some of Davies’ victims avoided his advances and were reprimanded by him when they did.
The judge said of a victim: “She is frustrated that when she first had the courage to speak out about it, nearly no-one listened apart from her family and close friends, and many friends and parents in the dance world chose to turn a blind eye and not support her.
“As she ignored his advances, he ignored her during classes.”
Davies groomed students and their mothers
Former students from RG Dance gave victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing, with one student — now aged in her 20s — saying Davies was so trusted by her family he would come to dinner, even though he was regularly abusing her.
A student’s mother said she sent Davies naked pictures and videos of her daughters, and that he threatened her when she tried to stop.
The woman told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse that she feared he would destroy their dancing prospects.
The woman said when she did not respond to Davies, he “threatened to destroy me and my daughters … expose me and what I was doing … and release the images of me and my daughters on the internet”.
Judge Girdham referenced his grooming pattern in her sentencing.
“As the facts made clear, the offender utilised a pattern of conduct and groomed the children for sexual exploitation,” said the judge.
“He constantly found new victims.
“In four instances, the offender befriended the children’s mothers, so as to garner their trust and facilitate his access to their child.”
‘Grant felt he was untouchable’
Dance teacher Dodie Wilson said she believed the sentence should have been longer.
“We’re happy that it’s not the 10 years or so that we were worried that it was going to be, but when you add up all the charges that he should have got, it should have been a lot more,” she said.
“Certainly 24 years is still a long time. I’m sure it’s nothing for the victims or their families, but for a lot of the other people involved it’s better than what we predicted.”
“It’s nice to know now that we aren’t liars. Nobody was lying. He was lying.”
“The reason he’s (Davies) not offending now is because he’s in jail. Full stop. He’s remorseful that he got caught.”
“Grant believed he was better than everybody else. He felt that he was untouchable, above the law.”
Davies had run the RG Dance with his sister Rebecca Davies.
She made a tearful apology at a hearing for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, saying she should have done more to prevent her brother from molesting children.
Davies was arrested in May 2013 when his wife reported him to the police after finding inappropriate messages he had sent to an underage girl.
Judge Girdham said she had taken into account Davies’ “late and negotiated pleas of guilty, and the discount to which you are entitled by reason of them” to decide the length of the sentence and non-parole period.