'No child should have to go through what I went through,' said the woman who witnessed 55-year-old Patrick Doyle's behaviour as a girl
A sex offender brought to justice for carrying out an "abhorrent" act in front of a child more than 20 years ago has kept his freedom.
Patrick Doyle, 55, stood in the dock facing sentence for the sexual offence he committed decades ago.
The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made allegations and the matter was reported at the time.
But no criminal proceedings were brought then, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Christopher Baker said she came forward again in 2016 as an adult.
Doyle, formerly of Thornaby, had denied the allegations.
Now of Wilmslow, Cheshire, he admitted a charge of indecency with a child last month.
The woman said in a statement read out in court that his crime badly affected her life, relationships and mental health.
She said he should have owned up earlier instead of denying his offence since she was a girl.
"I've suffered throughout my life with anxiety and depression," she added.
"No one believed me. He lied for over 20 years.
"No child should have to go through what I went through. He's a liar. I hope he feels bad for what he's put me through."
Now she said she wanted to move on.
Aisha Wadoodi, mitigating, said Doyle and his wife were carers for an adult daughter with Down's syndrome and autism.
She asked the judge to bear this in mind, along with Doyle's lack of relevant previous convictions, guilty plea and "glowing" references.
Judge Howard Crowson told Doyle: "You pleaded guilty to a single event which occurred some years ago now.
"An immediate prison sentence may well be justified but it would be a relatively short one.
"The harm and distress caused cannot be overlooked.
"You'd been prepared to behave in an abhorrent way once.
"It seems you are capable of living an honest life free of crime."
He said the years which had passed helped the Probation Service to decide Doyle's risk could be managed in the community.
Doyle was given an eight-month jail term suspended for a year with supervision.
He was given a sexual harm prevention order governing contact with under-16s and banning contact with the victim, and he will be on the sex offenders' register, both for 10 years.
A spokesperson for the NSPCC said after the sentencing: “No child should ever be put in the position where they are forced to witness such abhorrent sexual behaviour from an adult, who should have known better.
“Today’s sentence means that the victim will finally have some closure.
"It is vital that anyone who has suffered abuse, no matter how much time has passed, has the confidence to come forward and report their ordeal, to get the support and help they need to heal.
"And perpetrators like Doyle need to know that they will not escape punishment for their crimes.”
Children concerned about sexual abuse can contact Childline on 0800 1111.
Adults concerned about the wellbeing of a child can phone the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000