Carly Ryan’s killer had only just begun his life sentence when a person stopped me in the street to ask: “what’s so wrong with lying about your age on the internet?”
It was January 2010. Garry Francis Newman – a balding, overweight paedophile – had been found guilty of Miss Ryan’s 2007 murder. Jurors had been rightly disgusted by the months Newman spent masquerading, online, as a 20-year-old “emo guitarist” named Brandon Kane to win the teenager’s trust and love. Equally appalled, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon had proposed what I’d considered inarguably sensible new legislation. He wanted an eight-year jail term for those who lie about their age, online, to a child. He called it “Carly’s Law”.
“What’s so wrong with lying about your age on the internet?” the passerby asked. There was, they said, no rule requiring you “be yourself” online. And besides, we already had “plenty” of laws police could use to catch paedophiles.
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BREAKING NEWS: Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just announced a national Royal Commission into child abuse - beyond just the Catholic Church to look at abuse in all religious organisations and in state care, as well as schools and not-for-profit organisations. She said any instance of child absue is a “vile and evil thing”, and that “there have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes”. She hopes the terms of reference will be finalised by the end of the year after consultation with victims’ groups and the states and territories.
Meanwhile, Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney and the country’s most powerful Catholic, is acting like a child just when he most needs to man up. In the face of the latest horrific allegations of systemic child abuse and coverups within the Catholic Church he has cried, by turns: ‘it wasn’t me’, and ‘they did it too’.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, a senior investigative cop, has revealed new depths in the scandal that has haunted the church for decades. He said “the church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the church”.
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Premier Barry O’Farrell should not set up a Royal Commission into sex abuse in the Catholic Church.
It should be up to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
This is a boil that needs to be lanced at a Federal level.
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It’s difficult to feel anything but revulsion when pondering the case of former ABC Collectors host Andy Muirhead’s dramatic and public fall from grace. As Kate Legge noted in her lengthy piece in The Weekend Australian Magazine ‘Child pornography sickens to the core’.
Despite his defence arguments to the contrary, this week in Hobart Chief Justice Ewan Crawford told the Tasmanian Supreme Court he was satisfied the 36-year-old entertainer had a “sexual interest” in the 12,433 still and video images, some including sadism or humiliation.
In the case of Muirhead, we now know he downloaded thousands of images of innocent children.
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Cradle snatcher. Toy boy. Cougar. Child bride. Teen bride. Paedophile.
How old is too old, how young too young? We may have a visceral revulsion when we witness a large age gap in a relationship, but when does it go from odd to deeply wrong, sick – when should it be illegal? And what can we do about it?
The Daily Telegraph reports that more than 200 17-year-old girls and hundreds of 18, 19 and 20-year-olds have been granted prospective spouse visas to marry older – in some cases much older – men here in Australia.
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According to world-renowned expert in child abuse Dr Freda Briggs, paedophile websites frequently recommend to their filthy readers that they target children with Down syndrome because they are “willing to please” and “easy to manipulate”.
I have a young son with Down syndrome.
He is a national treasure who won the 25 metre freestyle at the State Special Olympics Swimming carnival on Saturday. I know I don’t hold the trademark on parental love, but when I am with him, I’m confident that I could at least try to register it. He is loving, trusting, and has velvet soft skin.
No cigars for guessing my deepest fear.
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For a person whose innocence is stolen as a child and whose life has been irrevocably damaged, what constitutes justice?
Last month, Malcolm Fox was convicted of four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse. These crimes were perpetrated by him – a drama teacher - against a student who trusted and admired him. Today, a four-year sentence with a two year non-parole period was handed down. Fox is to appeal this decision.
The victim’s sentence is life. But for the perpetrator, it’s four years.
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Moves are afoot in Ireland to lift the sacred secrecy of confession - so priests will be jailed if they don’t report child sex abuses revealed to them. SA Senator Nick Xenophon has been pushing for similar changes in Australia, arguing that innocent children deserve more protection than religious practice. We asked him for some more details.
What changes would you like to see in the way confessions are handled?
The admission of child abuse to a priest during confession should not be exempted from mandatory reporting requirements. No church should be complicit in the cover up of child abuse just so some paedophile can attempt to clear his conscience. The rule of law should come before religious beliefs, and there should be no exceptions.
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We will never eradicate paedophilia or child sex abuse.
This admission is implicit in the naming of SA Police’s Operation Decimate, which is the Sexual Crime Investigation Branch’s child sex exploitation investigation.
I fervently hope they are using the term ‘decimate’ in its bastardised but generally accepted definition – to destroy a significant proportion.
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I’m glad that the rejection of a photograph donated to a charity auction for the Sydney Children’s Hospital raises the spectre of morality in our society. Because it’s the perfect instance of why we need to take a serious look at ourselves and the values we want to promote.
Del Katherine Barton, one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists and someone well known both for her love of family and her charitable work for childrens’ causes, submitted a photograph of her shirtless six year-old son to be auctioned for the hospital’s benefit.
The board of the hospital has rejected the work on the basis that it doesn’t comply with their “strict rules on images of children”.
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Just to be absolutely clear, smashing convicted paedophile and child rapist Dennis Ferguson over the head with a medicine ball is not the ideal way to respond to his presence in a city gymnasium.
That said, Ferguson’s presence in a city gymnasium is not an ideal situation either.
Especially when he just sits there, dressed in a business suit, not even exercising at all, but outside at the pool where he can gaze at dozens of primary school kids who are learning to swim. Especially when he times his visits to coincide with the swimming lessons, either the primary school kids in the mornings, or the high school students when he visits in the afternoon.
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