Girl choked, raped and set on fire unlikely to ever work

Adrian Lowe June 21, 2011

A TEENAGE girl has been left disfigured after being suffocated, raped and set alight - and is unlikely to be able to work or drive, a court has heard.

The girl, 14, spent almost a year in hospital after the attack in her Caroline Springs home last May which began when she arranged with church youth leader Michael Tuano Hermogenes, 25, to meet her at her home and drink alcohol.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Grant told the Supreme Court Hermogenes took eight stubbies to the girl and they drank before he took photos of her taking off her school uniform. He then strangled her with her tights. The court heard Hermogenes raped the girl and set fire to her and the house before driving off.

He had placed computers and phones on the gas stove in an attempt to increase the fire's impact.

Passers-by saw smoke billowing from the house and rescued the girl, who is now struggling with the day-to-day practicalities of her situation.

With half of her body burnt, she struggles to bring her hand to her mouth and cannot eat, sit or stand without help. Her mother has had to quit work to care for her.

Hermogenes pleaded guilty to five charges stemming from the attack - one each of rape, the production of child pornography, attempted murder, arson and theft - as well as one count of indecent assault and one of theft, both of which arose from separate incidents.

Justice Paul Coghlan said the case was one of the worst examples of attempted murder and if the girl had died, Hermogenes would most likely be facing life in jail.

When arrested, Hermogenes told police that he had set fire to the house and the girl for ''self-preservation'' and claimed he was ''possessed'' by ''sexual demons''.

Hermogenes will be sentenced next week.




The purpose of this story is not at all to suggest that there is something particular about Church youth leaders engaging in such horrific actions, but to note the importance of qualifications and training that would screen out those so "possessed".