A solicitor accused of sexually abusing his daughter says she is either lying or deluded in her claims against him, and both alternatives are "equally unpalatable".
But Rodney John Gersbach, 59, has admitted striking his daughter Jayne with a trouser belt on "four or five" occasions, as a parent administering reasonable discipline for misbehaviour.
Jayne Gersbach, 34, is suing her father for aggravated damages over claims that he sexually and physically assaulted her from the age of three. The incidents are alleged to have taken place on a bushwalk in the Royal National Park, near a creek behind their house and in the bedrooms of various family homes.
Giving evidence in his defence at the Supreme Court on Friday, Mr Gersbach struggled not to cry as he talked of how proud he had been when Jayne was the school running champion at her primary school in Engadine, and the day he had found her in the living room with her wrists cut open after a suicide attempt.
"No sexual assault ever occurred," Mr Gersbach said. "I never assaulted my daughter." He also denied her evidence that he had strapped her over the bare buttocks in her bedroom at least monthly for 10 or 11 years. He said it had only occurred "four or five" times, that she was clothed and the strikes had been "firm strokes to hurt a little bit – otherwise what's the point?"
If he were to have struck her as she'd described, though, did he agree that this would have been cruel?
Mr Gersbach was silent for a while. "I don't know," he said. His daughter started to sob.
Ms Gersbach's teenage years were marked by bulimia, alcohol and drug abuse, but her father said he was not aware of these issues until much later and described his care of her during these years as loving and considerate.
He dismissed suggestions that her rejection of him was the result of sexual abuse or that the reason she had visited local businesses in Engadine describing him as a paedophile was because it was true.
Rather, she had blamed him for the break-up of a relationship, he said.
"She started this after the break-up with Ravi," Mr Gersbach said of his daughter's allegations.
"I didn't like him. He was giving her drugs, telling her she was fat. He turns up with his devil's eyes – lenses in his eyes to make him look like the devil. She hated me."
So was she making it all up?
"As far as I was concerned there seem to be two equally unpalatable answers to this," Mr Gersbach said.
"Either she's making it all up, which is an absolute tragedy for a girl to do this to her father, or she actually believes it and I feel sorry for her if she believes it."