Aussie 'predator' admits assaulting two boys at US camp: prosecutor
November 3, 2009
The Texas district attorney prosecuting the case, Amos Barton, said he was hellbent on ensuring the 25-year-old West Australian camp counsellor was punished with the maximum sentence - life in a Texan jail.
"We will be firing with both barrels at this defendant," Barton told AAP.
"I don't want him to ever be able to victimise another kid."
Zirus, from Pinjarra, south of Perth, appeared in the District Court in Kerr County Texas on Monday local time for arraignment.
Zirus is accused of assaulting three boys while working at the Camp Stewart for Boys in Hunt, Texas, as part of an international exchange program.
Family members of the alleged victims were in court for the arraignment.
"They want justice," Barton said.
Zirus is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, indecency with a child and continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14.
He entered not guilty pleas to all charges during the court appearance, did not seek bail and a trial was set for March 9.
Since Zirus' arrest in August three other potential victims at the camp have contacted Texan authorities, but charges have not yet been laid.
"We are aware of the possibility of more victims, but no charges have been filed yet and investigations are continuing," Barton said.
US authorities believe Zirus, who had links with Australian scout groups and is believed to have run his own camp for children in Australia, likely assaulted boys in Australia.
A computer confiscated by US authorities revealed evidence pointing to Australian assaults, Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer, who has labelled Zirus a "predator", said.
West Australian police have opened an investigation and asked the public to come forward with any information.
Barton said Zirus admitted in the video-taped confessions to assaulting two of his alleged victims.
"As to two of the victims, we have a full confession," the prosecutor said.
"He has confessed to aggravated sexual assault of a child and sexual assault of a child by contact."
Zirus was arrested at San Antonio international airport on August 20 as he was about to fly back to Australia.
He has remained in jail since his arrest and Barton said he would fight to keep Zirus behind bars if he applied to have his $US100,000 ($110,500) bail lowered in an attempt to gain release from jail before his trial.
Barton said Zirus was a flight risk and a danger to children.
"I would oppose any reductions because of his ability to travel and for him being such a danger," Barton said.
"We have so many victims."