Ski lodge caretaker accused of abusing kids while registered as sex offender

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A ski lodge caretaker accused of abusing six children over four years while he was on the sex offenders register has been ordered to stand trial.

Ewen Addison – also known as James Addison – faces 49 charges relating to allegations he sexually abused children and exposed them to pornography between 2008 and 2012.

Ewen Addison outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.Credit: Justin McManus

The 48-year-old this month faced Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, which heard allegations he groomed underage victims who visited a Mount Hotham ski lodge, and on the Mornington Peninsula where he sometimes lived.

He is accused of dozens of offences against boys and girls aged under 16 including sexual penetration, showing them pornography, and indecent touching at locations including Mount Hotham, Chelsea, Sorrento, Edithvale and Wantirna.

The court heard that as a “registered offender”, Addison allegedly breached his reporting obligations when he had ongoing contact with children and by leaving Victoria without notifying police.

Addison, formerly of Wallan – north of Melbourne – and now living in nearby Doreen, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Mount Hotham Village.Credit: iStock

The Age can now reveal further details of Addison’s alleged crimes after successfully fighting four separate attempts by his legal team to have his name and details of the case suppressed from the public.

During a committal hearing over five days this month, witnesses gave evidence about trips to a Mount Hotham lodge where Addison allegedly showed groups of children pornography and sex toys.

One young woman said she went on two trips to Hotham with a group of friends, who were all then underage, in 2012: one in January, the other during or near the Easter school holidays.

She said one night her friends were drinking alcohol and playing games in a downstairs part of the lodge when pornography was played on a television.

The witness said while she didn’t see who put the pornography on the television, it appeared to come from a hard drive or USB stick.

“Ewen was standing behind us,” the woman said.

“It was mainly the bloopers. 1 Night in Paris – the Paris Hilton pornography – was put on too.”

The woman told the court Addison then retrieved a box of sex toys from his downstairs bedroom.

Mount Hotham.

“I remember him emerging from the room with the box,” she said. “It was my first time actually drinking; having alcohol.”

Another young woman who attended the two trips when she was a girl said she was told Addison lived there to look after the lodge during the summer months.

“As far as I knew he was the only person living in the lodge,” she said.

She said she slept in a downstairs bedroom with her friends, and there was another area nearby containing a table, television and couches, where the friends gathered. Addison also slept in a downstairs bedroom, she said.

An earlier photo of Ewen Addison.

The woman recalled that one evening during the January trip, Addison entered a downstairs room, where the group were playing drinking games, and put pornography on the television.

The witness said that on the trip she was told Addison had a partner named Amber, who was not there at the time.

She said while she didn’t see anything sexual occurring that night, the next morning Addison made “suggestive comments” to her.

The woman said that years later, she was contacted by one of the other people on the trip and told she should contact police to make a statement about the “Hotham trips”.

Barrister James McQuillan represented Ewen Addison at his most recent court hearing.Credit: Paul Jeffers

She said that during that call, the friend told her he’d been groomed and sexually abused, but was unable to discuss the allegations further.

A young man who went on one of the trips told the court that his friend, one of the complainants, had previously watched shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a man they knew as Ewen.

He said while at the lodge, Addison gave the group Xbox games, World of Warcraft maps and other downloads from the internet.

The young man said while on the trip he also witnessed pornography being played.

Ewen Addison arriving at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court last Friday.Credit: Paul Jeffers

This masthead first publicly named Addison, in March following repeated attempts by his defence team to have details of the case suppressed from the public.

Addison’s latest hearing was designed to test the evidence and to determine whether he was sent to trial, and on the first day the 48-year-old again tried to have the hearing kept secret, by calling a third barrister, James McQuillan, in a last-ditch effort to limit reporting on the case.

The Age opposed each of the two suppression order applications, and a further two pseudonym order applications designed to obscure his name from media reports.

Addison had sought the orders to protect the safety of his children but ultimately, magistrate Therese McCarthy ruled the orders were not necessary.

Police initially charged Addison with crimes against four children, and a further eight charges were laid in March relating to two more children.

Among the charges, Addison is accused of indecently touching a child and sexually penetrating a child under 16 in Chelsea. In Sorrento, he allegedly sexually penetrated a girl and committed indecent acts on a boy.

He was arrested at Wallan in September and granted bail.

According to his online profiles, Addison was a member of Rotary and completed his secondary education at the prestigious NSW private school The Scots College. More recently, the court heard, he worked in housing sales.

McCarthy ordered Addison to face trial in the County Court. While on bail he must report to police three times a week.

“I am satisfied there is evidence of sufficient weight to support a conviction on all of the charges before the court,” McCarthy said.

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