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WA woman avoids jail after touching girl

AAP logoAAP 8/09/2016

A woman who touched the breasts and genitals of a teenage girl as they lay in bed together during a sleepover has been spared time in jail.

Sharon Marie Feeney, 51, was an old friend of the girl's mother and was staying with them overnight in March 2014 when she became drunk and got into bed with the 15-year-old girl.

The West Australian District Court heard on Thursday that the girl's mother had asked Feeney, who is a lesbian, to mentor her daughter as she struggled with her sexuality and mental health issues.

But instead, Feeney got "touchy feely" with the girl, who repeatedly rejected her advances.

She told the girl the next day, "You enjoyed that, didn't you?" and "You were my first young experience and I was your first old experience".

The pair also exchanged flirtatious private messages on social media between April and August, although Feeney showed less interest in the girl after entering into an age-appropriate relationship.

Feeney was found guilty by a jury last month of two counts of indecently dealing with the girl, but was acquitted of the more serious offence of sexual penetration.

"You were well aware ... that you should not have done what you did," Judge Anthony Derrick said.

He noted Feeney did not have an underlying deviant sexual interest in young girls, had a relatively good prior record and was at low risk of reoffending.

But she had not expressed remorse or accepted responsibility for her actions and general deterrence was important, he said.

Judge Derrick added Feeney had committed a breach of trust against an emotionally vulnerable girl and her mother.

Feeney was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for 12 months with conditions.

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