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WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT
A Dimboola man will face court over shocking allegations of abuse involving two boys, including claims a rope was put around a 12-year-old's neck before he was forced to run beside a car for almost two hours.
Peter Alexander Bywaters, 54, has been charged with two counts of recklessly causing injury and one count of engaging in reckless conduct that placed a person in danger of serious injury.
In May 2016, Mr Bywaters allegedly instructed the 12-year-old boy to chop wood on a farm in Dimboola, about 340 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.
When the boy failed to cut the wood correctly, Mr Bywaters allegedly ordered the boy to place an "improvised noose" around his neck, before driving around a paddock as the distressed child ran beside the vehicle.
When Mr Bywaters allegedly refused the boy a toilet break, the child defecated himself and was ordered to keep running.
A few weeks earlier, the same boy was allegedly kicked in the face by Mr Bywaters, who accused him of failing to collect pine cones quickly enough. After the incident, the alleged victim was told to say he had fallen on a stick or a pine cone.
Mr Bywaters is also accused of grabbing a 15-year-old boy by the hair and hurling him to the ground causing serious facial and shoulder injuries.
The two boys initially refused to co-operate with an investigation by members of the Horsham sexual offences and child abuse investigation team, before providing statements to detectives in September 2016.
A barrister acting for Mr Bywaters indicated he would defend the charges during a contest mention in Horsham Magistrates Court on October 21.
Mr Bywaters is due to face court again on November 30, when a trial date is expected to be set.
If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.
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