A swim instructor has vehemently denied touching his female students on their private parts for his own sexual gratification and maintains his hands never strayed inside their swimming costumes.
Following more than five weeks of evidence from nine girls, parents, pool staff, and psychologists, Kyle Daniels gave evidence that he “never intentionally touched any students inside their swimmers”.
The 22-year-old has pleaded not guilty to 26 charges, including multiple counts of having sexual intercourse with a child under 10 and indecently assaulting a person under 16.
He is accused of touching nine students aged between five and 10 on or near their genitals while instructing them between February 2018 and February 2019 at a pool on Sydney’s north shore.
Under cross-examination in the District Court on Tuesday Daniels agreed there was no reason for a swim instructor to hold a child near the groin or chest area.
He also denied tailoring his evidence about a “troublesome” student with the Crown arguing it would be impossible for him to have such a specific memory out of all the lessons and classes he taught.
“She was a fairly troublesome student, she wouldn’t listen to instructions very well and was often unnecessarily argumentative with me,” he maintained.
Daniels recalled the day of his arrest and a “plain clothes” man setting up a camera outside his house and following him to Manly Police Station in March 2019.
He said he felt “dumbfounded” and didn’t know what to say or do and didn’t know how this could happen.
Refusing to make a statement or be interviewed he noticed officers sitting behind the desk while he was “trying to remain calm”.
“Calling me a disgusting pedo … laughing about what would happen to me in jail,” he said.
But to one police officer who treated him with respect, he wrote a card saying: “Thank you for treating me like a human being, it meant the world to me”.
After learning the AUSTSWIM swimming instructor’s course at his highschool Knox Grammar, he eventually worked at Ravenswood School for Girls before his transfer to the north shore centre in 2016.
His short-sightedness meant he struggled to see underneath broken water that became “quite distorted” while children were swimming, and was unable to wear contacts comfortably so opted for prescription glasses in the pool.
He described holds on the back, forearms and calves, to assist with buoyancy and to assess the quality of kicks, and if a child was to sink he would “scoop” them up by their upper body, legs and head to quickly help them further out of the water.
He found teaching children how to swim and watching them acquire new skills “incredibly rewarding”.
Parents and carers usually opted to sit as close as possible to the lesson while supervisors would randomly drop in to assess students’ progress, he said.
He was aware of CCTV cameras monitoring the area too.
After the first complaint of inappropriate handling was made against him he had a discussion with the training manager.
“I understood and said if anyone had seen me doing anything wrong I was completely open to feedback at any time,” he said.
He agreed soon after the first complaint inappropriate or inadvertent touching was at the forefront of his mind, but slowly had forgotten after weeks or months.
At no time did any student ever sit on his lap, he said, after one alleged he touched her on the vagina in this way.
The ex-water polo player had a habit of trimming his nails twice a week and said it was not possible to have scratched another one of his alleged victims.
Daniels’ evidence will continue before Judge Kara Shead in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday.