Former MP guilty of sex offences receives suspended sentence
Today I am thinking about a 15-year-old Tasmanian girl and what she thinks of the Australian justice system. I’m wondering if she is questioning if it was worth taking her harrowing ordeal to the courts to find no justice at the end of the process.
At a mere 12-years-old, this girl was prostituted by adults and used by at least 120 men. Only one of them was charged. And yesterday he was released.
Former Tasmanian MP Terry Martin, who had been found guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse with a young person and of producing child exploitation material in 2009 – he took photos of the girl which were added to his stash of hundreds of pornographic images including of children as young as eight -walked free from court with a suspended sentence.
Handing down his ruling in Hobart’s Supreme Court, judge David Porter said Martin’s medication for Parkinson’s disease caused him to do what he did.
According to The Australian “The judge said the condition caused by the medication had impaired Martin’s ability to make moral judgments and therefore ‘his moral culpability is reduced’.
How did the drugs influence the fact that he took images of what he did? Did they cause him to pick up a camera and start filming? When the Judge says Martin’s offences would not have occurred, it is as if they just happened like that.
Was it just an incredible coincidence that Martin already had a child porn collection? And what does this suggest about other men who are on the same medication? Should they be watched with eagle eyes around children? If this drug causes men to solicit girls and use them for sexual gratification, shouldn’t it be immediately withdrawn from market?
Late last year I published a piece on the girl’s case by Professor Caroline S Taylor. It gives important background and detail on the case, so I think it is worth reprinting today.
Meanwhile, I hope the young girl, so mistreated and violated and now denied justice, knows that there are many who do care for her and are angered and saddened at what passes for justice.
Post by Professor S. Caroline Taylor, Foundation Chair in Social Justice and Head of the Social Justice Research Centre at Edith Cowan University. Professor Taylor is also the Founder and Chair of Children of Phoenix Organisation, a charity that provides scholarships and mentoring support to children, adolescents and adults affected by childhood sexual abuse.
Last week, the Tasmanian Director of Public Prosecution, Mr Tim Ellis, released an eight page Memorandum of Advice to the Tasmania police which instructed that at least 120 men who had paid to ‘have sex with’ a 12-year-old ward of the state will not be charged with breaking the law.
On October 1, on Stateline Tasmania, Mr Ellis dismissed broad community and expert concern about the case as nothing more than a symptom of “wicked” media sensationalism. He added the gratuitous comment that the law rests with a “reasonable jury, not a lynch mob”.
In effect Mr Ellis framed the numerous and profound media and expert critiques of the social justice issues that this case clearly raises as nothing more than an hysterical media driven moral panic about child sexual abuse.
It’s a puerile argument, as stupid as it is offensive to public sensibilities. This tactic reduces the complex reasons behind the critique of his decision with an underhanded accusation that such critiques are not “reasonable”. This is echoed in the Attorney-General Lara Giddings comment: “I understand their anger”. Reducing the profound ethical critiques of this case to a single reactionary emotion – anger – infantilises public concern in order to dismiss such concerns.
Our legal system is premised on the notion that police lay charges where there is evidence that a crime has been committed according to the rules of the law. Yet in this case the DPP has determined that not one, not two, not three, not four, but a series of men charged with paying to sexually abuse a child all really believed that a 12-year-old ward of the state was an adult. To be clear, the Director of Public Prosecution has used his discretion to void all charges on the grounds that he found every one of their arguments “convincing”. I wonder how many “arguments” they actually had? Or did they amount to the one generic excuse: they could not tell the difference between a primary school age child and a female aged 18. Read more