Indian immigrant, 52, who allegedly touched a 14-year-old girl on a bus while she was wearing her school uniform was on humanitarian visa
- Ashok Bhatia, from India, is accused of sexually touching a schoolgirl on a bus
- He came to Australia on a humanitarian visa because he claims he is bisexual
- Bhatia had been granted a Working With Children permit in the weeks prior
A middle-aged man living in Australia on a humanitarian visa has been granted bail, accused of sexually touching a schoolgirl on a Sydney bus.
Ashok Bhatia, 52, fronted Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday after allegedly indecently assaulted a 14-year-old schoolgirl on a bus near Blacktown about 3.30pm on May 30.
After a public appeal this week, police arrested and charged him on Friday evening at a Surry Hills home.
The girl was wearing partial school uniform and Bhatia had admitted the man seen on CCTV in the girl’s presence was him, the court heard.
A middle-aged man living in Australia on a humanitarian visa has been granted bail, accused of sexually touching a schoolgirl on a Sydney bus
His lawyer told the court Bhatia’s bisexuality was the factor in him coming to Australia on a humanitarian visa from India two years ago.
He is currently studying IT at TAFE and living on welfare payments, the court was told.
‘I concede the offence is serious … (but) it’s still a case where it’s the evidence of the complainant against the evidence of Mr Bhatia,’ the Legal Aid lawyer said.
Bhatia was granted a Working With Children permit in the weeks before the alleged incident, he told the court.
Magistrate Paul Mulroney said there was ‘a pretty robust circumstantial case’ against the Indian national.
‘One of the things (making it a strong case) is the prompt complaint by the alleged victim and the state of distress that was observed in her,’ he said.
Mr Mulroney expressed concern Bhatia would commit a further serious offence – ‘particularly against a vulnerable person’ – but said conditions could mitigate the risk.
Those conditions include surrendering his passport, reporting to police three times a week and being banned from being in the presence of children under the age of 16 unless with another adult.
He also can’t go within five kilometres of Blacktown bus interchange except to attend court.
He’s next due to face Blacktown Local Court on August 6.