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Cult Leader Jailed For Sexual Abuse Of Teenage Girl

A cult leader who had a desire to create the "ideal human environment" has been jailed for 10 years for repeatedly abusing a teenage girl.

James Gino Salerno was recently found guilty in the South Australian District Court of eight counts of unlawful sexual intercourse.

Salerno's trial was told he had been the leader of a cult with about 30 members which had been based for a time in the Adelaide Hills.

It later moved to Beaudesert in southeast Queensland and is now based in Kununurra in Western Australia's northwest.

In finding him guilty in May, Judge Paul Slattery said women in the cult were at Salerno's "beck and call all of the day and night".

Photo: Getty Images

"These women gave the accused massages, manicures, pedicures, ran his bath, washed his clothes, selected, prepared, cooked and served his food and generally attended to his every need," he said

The judge said it was Salerno who came up with the concept of the "ideal human environment" which ranked individuals based on their EQ or emotional quotient.

He said all members of the group were expected to be involved in research into his goal, but no one was able to say what the research involved.

The judge said the daily routine for children in the group included exercises and chores, and punishments were handed out if they were not completed.

In sentencing on Monday, he said Salerno had groomed and sexually abused his victim.

He also ruled that the 72-year-old was a serious repeat offender despite him continuing to maintain his innocence.

"You used your primacy position within the group to not only groom and sexually abuse the complainant but to ensure she was fearful in speaking out," the judge said.

He said Salerno had "instilled in her thoughts that no one would believe her even if she did speak out".

Judge Slattery jailed Salerno for 10 years with a non-parole period of eight years.

Outside the court, the victim, who cannot be named, said she was pleased justice had been done.

"The girls can sleep easy now, the ones still left in there," she said.

"That's all I wanted from the start, to help the other girls."

Salerno has begun an appeal against his conviction.