Former Bega Cheese boss Maurice Van Ryn once described his sexual abuse of children as a “few minutes of stupidity”.
So when Judge Clive Jeffreys found the 59-year-old had shown “deep contrition” over his decade-long crimes, there were murmurs and shaking of the heads in the public gallery.
Outside court, a spokesman for the victims – who only wanted to be known as Ken – said: “He is sorry that he got caught. That is the contrition he shows.”
Van Ryn was sentenced to a minimum of seven years and a maximum of 13 for 14 offences of child abuse carried out on nine boys and girls from 2003 to 2014.
The one-time CEO of the successful cheese company regularly abused his victims while they were at a swimming pool, Sydney’s District Court heard.
In one instance Van Ryn put his hands down the swimmers of a girl – then aged 10, while in another case he carried a 13-year-old boy into a quieter area of the pool, asking “Do you want to be my special friend?”.
He then indecently assaulted him.
Another of his victims fell prey to Van Ryn’s persistent sexual abuse after the former CEO befriended the teenage boy by helping him with computer games.
Over the more than three years that followed, Van Ryn repeatedly abused him.
In one instance the teenager kept his mouth clamped shut as Van Ryn tried to force him to perform oral sex.
The crown has previously argued Van Ryn groomed his victims by ingratiating himself with a young person to the point where the offending became routine.
But Judge Jeffreys said he would not take grooming into account.
He also said he could not find he had taken one of his victims on a trip to the ACT with the purpose of sexually abusing them.
He found Van Ryn had also suffered public abuse and harassment, his home’s letter box being bombed last year and a sign “I love rape in jail” put up outside his premises.
Van Ryn was CEO of Bega Cheese for 15 years during which he guided its success.
He had retired from his position before carrying out these offences and was working part time at a pharmaceutical company.
Van Ryn will be eligible for parole in December 2021.