Nine who admitted raping 10-year-old released by Australian judge

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An Australian judge has handed down sentences to nine males who have admitted rape of a 10-year-old girl, none of which involve incarceration. Six of the offenders, who were minors at the time of the crime were placed on probation. The other three aged 17, 18 and 26 were given suspended sentences.

In her ruling, Judge Sarah Bradley told them that the victim "was not forced and probably agreed to have sex with all of you".

"I hope that all of you realise that you must not have sex with young girls," she said. She further admonished the 26-year-old: "You should have known a lot better."

Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he was "disgusted and appalled" by the court's decision. "I am horrified by cases like this, involving sexual violence against women and children. My attitude is one of zero tolerance," he told reporters.

Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine said he is appealing and "I am not prepared to just write this off as an unusual one-off case. I do want to satisfy myself this is not part of a broader sentencing trend that reflects a lower standard [of justice] for those communities."

Both the victim and all of the defendants involved are from Australia's aboriginal population, which has played a major factor in the case.

At a conference in January, Judge Bradley said: "There are also times when a judge who has knowledge of a community, has information about the community view of the offending, the background to it and the full particulars of those involved may decide an alternative penalty is appropriate. Determining which category of case is before you can be problematic and can often only be done with input from the indigenous community itself."

Boni Robertson, an aboriginal activist, disagreed with the judge's decision. "There is nothing culturally, there is nothing morally, there is nothing socially and there is definitely nothing legally that would ever allow this sort of decision to be made," she said.


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