Salvos worker jailed over sex with homeless girl

Support worker Salvos has been jailed for at least six months after having sex with a 17-year-old girl who was staying at a homeless shelter where he worked.

Friday Fredrick Jeremiah, 35, was sentenced in the NSW District Court on Wednesday morning after pleading guilty to having sex with a minor aged 17 to 18 who was in his care.

The court heard how Jeremiah worked as a youth therapeutic support worker and used the girl’s “vulnerability” to get close and have sex with her.

He was sentenced to nine months in prison with a six-month non-parole period.

The court heard how Jeremiah asked the girl “what she was interested in” sexually.

“This made the victim feel uncomfortable and she didn’t say much,” the court heard.

The therapeutic youth support worker later took the victim away from the shelter to a nearby park, grabbed her head and kissed her, which she said also made her feel “uncomfortable”.

He then took her to a tree and removed her pants before performing the act sexually.

Jeremiah then returned to the shelter and told the girl to wait 10 minutes before returning so as not to arouse suspicion.

The girl then texted her friend to tell her what had happened.

Jeremiah then texted the girl for months, even after she left the shelter for long-term placement.

At one point he sent her a picture of his genitals with the message: “Let the sleeping dog lie”, to which she did not respond.

The victim later sent Jeremiah a boundary text, telling him that their relationship was unprofessional and should not continue.

She then complained about Jeremiah.

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Scotting said Jeremiah had been “deceptive” and “secretive” about their relationship.

In the beginning, Jeremiah asked her to save his contact as “Uncle Chad” so no one would know it was “his number.”

He also told her that she was his “favorite customer” and not to tell other workers about their friendship.

He also gave the victim “life advice” and emotional support while she remained at the center.

Judge Scotting said that while the issue of consent was not a factor in this case, the conduct was a “serious breach of trust”.

He also pointed out the “big age difference”.

“The victim was a resident because she was vulnerable and the offender took advantage of that vulnerability to approach her and have sex with her,” Judge Scotting said.

The court heard that Jeremiah was the sole income earner for his family.

He also sends money home to family members in Nigeria, from where he emigrated to Australia in 2008.

Judge Scotting noted that Jeremiah had a good work history and was an active volunteer at his church.

But he noted that his good character was “diminished to some extent” because the offender “relied on his good character to become a carer for vulnerable people like the victim”.

One of Jeremiah’s relatives, who was in court during the sentencing, began to cry loudly in the courtroom as he was taken into custody.

He will be eligible for parole on December 3. has contacted the Salvation Army for comment.

Contact the journalist.

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