Child Protection

Community expectations totally ignored – letter to the editor Maitland Mercury

The NSW Government’s failure to properly increase the sentence for concealing Child Sex Abuse is not only a slap to the face of the victims but it is totally out of step with what the public expects when it comes to sentencing those who protect and enable paedophiles.

There is a storm coming. Soon, charges for concealing Child Sex Offences will be laid against high ranking clergy. For decades, senior clerics have deliberately and intentionally covered up vile and heinous crimes perpetrated by monsters like Arch Deacon Peter Rushton (dec) and his lover, convicted paedophile, “Jimmy” James Michael Brown.

The Royal Commission showed that if complaints about Rushton and others had been acted upon then hundreds of innocent children would have been spared unimaginable suffering.

If the public were outraged by the leniency of the sentence recently handed down to Arch Bishop Philip Wilson, what’s coming next will sicken them, and rightly so.

In May last year, I met with Attorney General Mark Speakman and his staff at Parliament House. With me was Survivor and Victim’s Advocate, Peter Gogarty and pro bono solicitor Glenn Kolomeitz. Paul Gray, a survivor of Rushton’s abuse was unable to attend.

The meeting was specifically to discuss and address the inadequacy of the current laws and how new legislation with harsher penalties needed to be introduced in the wake of Royal Commission. Paul Gray had given me a letter to read to Mr Speakman. That letter spoke of the horrors that he and his brother endured, his brother’s subsequent suicide and closed with an appeal for the maximum sentence for concealing to be increased to 10 years.

Some months earlier, I had gone to Parliament house and spoke with two politicians on the same subject.

We did everything we could to urge the politicians to introduce penalties that would in line with public expectation, act as a true deterrent and to reflect the criminality of concealing these crimes but it has fallen on deaf ears.

The Government needs to be held to account for this tragic and inexcusable failure. If paedophiles were not protected, there would be fewer victims, therefore harsher sentencing is required not the continuation of that which has already dismally failed.

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