SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

10-Year-Old Aboriginal Girl Gang-Raped

Posted by shadmia on December 11, 2007

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In what seems to be a gross miscarriage of justice, Judge Sarah Bailey freed 9 males who pleaded guilty to gang-raping a 10-year-old girl. And to make matters worse, commented that the young victim “probably agreed” to have sex with them.

In a case that stinks of prosecutorial and magisterial collusion with undertones of racial bias, six of the nine defendants aged 14 to 16 were given 12 months probation with no conviction recorded, while the three older men aged 17, 18 and 26 received six-month suspended jail sentences. Some of the girl’s attackers are said to be from prominent families in the area while she comes from a less privileged background.

In defending her judgment, Justice Sarah Bradley noted that even prosecutors in the case had not asked for custodial sentences. Sounding apologetic to the rapists she made the following comments:

“I accept that the girl involved was not forced and she probably agreed to have sex with all of you.”

“But you were taking advantage of a 10-year-old girl and she needs to be protected. This is a very serious matter. It is a very shameful matter and I hope that all of you realise that you must not have sex with young girls.”

The prosecution had no problems with the judge’s decision to free all of the rapists. In fact the prosecution recommended that the judge free the men and described the case as ” childish experimentation” and “consensual in a general sense”. Crown prosecutor Steve Carter made the following comments to the court which seem to actually blame the victim for being raped:

“To the extent I can’t say it was consensual in the legal sense, but in the other – in the general sense, the non-legal sense, yes, it was,” Mr Carter told the court.

“So, I then ask on that basis not to seek any periods of detention, not to seek any periods of custody, immediate custody.”

“My submission in relation to this particular offence is the same that I make in relation to children of that age … they’re very naughty for doing what they’re doing but it’s really – in this case, it was a form of childish experimentation, rather than one child being prevailed upon by another,” he said.

“Although she was very young, she knew what was going on and she had agreed to meet the children at this particular place and it was all by arrangement.

“I’d ask your honour to take that into account.”

Mr Carter also told the court such incidents were not out of character in small, remote communities.

” … children, females, have got to be – deserve – the same protection under the law in an Aboriginal or an indigenous community as they do in any other community,” Mr Carter said.

“But sometimes things happen in a small community when children get together and people that are just past their childhood and these sort of things are what we’re dealing with today.”

When word got out about this case Australians reacted with disgust and horror. Politicians and the judiciary decried the sentences as unjustifiably lenient:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd:

“I’m disgusted and appalled by the reports that I’ve seen in today’s newspapers on this case. I am horrified by cases like this, involving sexual violence against women and children. My attitude is one of zero tolerance.”

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said:

“Sexual assault against anybody is obviously something that disgusts us all,” Ms Gillard told Channel 9. “When a child is caught up in it, it turns everybody’s stomach and completely is abhorrent to the community. But as a woman, as someone who would like to see every woman and every child in this country able to live in safety, we obviously want to make sure our justice system is working so it is not only punishing offenders but it’s sending a deterrent message.”

Premier Anna Bligh has ordered all Cape York sexual offence sentences to be reviewed, to ensure there was not a trend of leniency.

“The nature of the sentences in this case are so far from community expectations I have to say I am alarmed, and I am not prepared to just write this off as an unusual one-off case,” she said.

Opposition justice spokesman Mark McArdle said:

“How did the DPP fail to put any evidence before the court, any submissions warranting a custodial sentence, and why didn’t the DPP’s office insist on a custodial sentence in these circumstances?”

QUEENSLAND’S Attorney-General Kerry Shine says he will appeal sentences handed down and met with Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare for urgent advice:

“I am truly horrified by the circumstances of these offences,” he said in Brisbane today. “The law should be consistent in its application, whether it be in Aurukun or Clayfield.”

Brisbane-based Aboriginal academic Professor Boni Robertson, called for the judge to step down:

“It’s actually undermined everything we have worked for over the last 10 years to get our women justice in this country,” Prof Robertson said in Brisbane today. “There is something even more sinister – it’s actually given a very clear message to perpetrators out there generally. I don’t care that they are black, white or whatever. I think it’s allowed perpetrators to think if you can come up with a defence that she asked for it or she condoned it, then that gives them a sense of leniency.”

“I think Judge Bradley should be asked to step down until a full inquiry is undertaken.”

“I think it defies any logic at all, given the concerns that have been raised, not just in Aboriginal communities, but across Australia, about pedophiles in the community and the increasing level of child sexual assault,” she said.

“To think that a judge, a woman at that, would give such a lenient sentence, and didn’t even record a conviction on some of them, is absolutely appalling. I think (the sentence) breaches every single moral, social, political and cultural code that you could even think of.

“What sort of message does that send to pedophiles and other people out there who think it’s OK to go out and have sexual relations with children under the age of consent?”

Professor Robertson said it would be “absolutely mistaken” for anyone to claim there were cultural issues involved.

“There is no way that any culture could be used to claim that it’s OK for nine men to sexually interfere with a 10-year-old child.”

Child protection advocate Hetty Johnston said there was an element of racism in the sentencing.

“If this was a white girl in white suburban Brisbane, there is no way these nine offenders would have just walked out of the courtroom,” she said.

In an editorial the newspaper, The Australian, which first reported the story said:

“The picture emerging from the gang rape is of a bureaucratic culture that accepts a lesser standard of rights and responsibilities for indigenous people on Cape York.”

The Australian reported that the case first came to light when the girl went to the clinic in Aurukun asking for condoms and a pregnancy test, and it was discovered that she had contracted gonorrhea. The child at the center of the case is developmentally disabled, having been born with foetal alcohol syndrome, and she was first sexually assaulted when she was seven years old, when she contracted syphilis.

The Australian reported that she was placed in a number of foster homes, eventually ending up with a non-indigenous family, and although she had been progressing well in her new home, social workers who believed that indigenous children should not be placed with non- indigenous families moved her back to Aurukun, where she was assaulted. After a report by the Queensland Department of Child Safety a year ago, one senior social worker has been fired and two others suspended. The girl was once more back in foster care, receiving medical and other treatment, and is reportedly doing well.

 

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One Response to “10-Year-Old Aboriginal Girl Gang-Raped”

  1. Off with Judge Bradley's Head! said

    This woman should be disbarred and removed immediately! If the child being raped were a little white Austrailian girl those boys would have been hanged by their BALLS!!! She clearly had an opportunity to set the tone that this type of violence, especially perpetrated on a child, would not be tolerated. Instead, she took the easy, selfish, and alarmingly cold-hearted way out……she did nothing. Why is this women allowed to make any judicial decisions at all??????

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