Former State Opera of South Australia chief executive Timothy Sexton has been found guilty of sexually abusing two teenage girls.

Key points:

  • Timothy Sexton stood trial accused of 17 child sex offences against three singing students
  • He was found guilty of two sex offences committed against two teenage girls
  • He was remanded in custody to be sentenced a later date

The 60-year-old stood trial in South Australia’s District Court accused of 17 sexual crimes against three girls between 1989 and 1993.

The charges included two counts of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child, seven counts of indecent assault and a further eight counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a child.

After deliberating for four hours, the jury unanimously found Sexton guilty of two separate counts of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child.

He was acquitted of the charges relating to allegations made by a third girl.

Sexton was the artistic director and chief executive of the state opera from 2011 until his resignation in May 2017.

During the trial, the jury heard that Sexton was a “talented, handsome and charismatic” music teacher and the girls were “beguiled” by him.

“Mr Sexton was highly regarded and he was liked,” prosecutor Carmen Matteo told the court.

“This was an ordinary state of affairs which gave him the opportunity and freedom to sexually offend against these girls.”

Ms Matteo said Mr Sexton was already an accomplished composer but would work part-time in schools across Adelaide to teach singing.

“They were children and the accused was their teacher,” she said.

During the trial, Sexton described allegations he had sex with one of the students during a lesson as “absolute garbage”.

He said while he got along “very, very well” with the student, there was no sexual contact.

He told the court that there was some touching of students to correct posture, which was a “normal part” of a singing lesson.

“It was necessary to make certain corrections … the same you might say with a sportsperson or a weightlifter … making sure that they are lifting correctly,” he said.

“Essentially, I had taught the way I had been taught and had seen other people.”

Sexton was taken into custody and will be sentenced at a later date.