Name Suppression Sends Wrong Message
11 August 2005
Name Suppression For Child Sex Abuse Image Offending Sends Wrong Message
Today’s decision by the Dunedin District Court, to grant name suppression to a university student convicted on 12 charges of collecting and distributing videos and pictures of toddlers and children being sexually abused by adult men and being sexually posed, was criticised by a group working to end the sexual exploitation of children.
Judge Stephen O’Driscoll sentenced the offender to 300 hours community work and imposed a 12-month supervision and treatment order.
Spokesperson for Stop Demand Foundation, Denise Ritchie, says “Today’s sentence is a trivialisation of the sexual abuse of children in two respects: the inadequate sentence imposed, and the granting of name suppression. Toddlers and children were sexually abused to satisfy the sexual demands of men like the offender. In this regard he directly contributed to their sexual abuse. It was open to the Court to impose a jail sentence. The fact that the Court merely chose to impose community work is a minimisation of the abuse inflicted on these children.”
“The sexually abused toddlers and children will be identifiable. They will live the rest of their lives without anonymity, with the knowledge that sexual predators globally will derive sexual gratification from watching their degradation and reliving their sexual abuse.
For the Court to then provide anonymity to someone who derived sexual gratification from their abuse is inappropriate when the offending concerns sexual crimes against children. It is well known that those who distribute and collect child sex abuse images operate in secrecy.
Ongoing secrecy through name suppression is not a signal that the Courts should be endorsing. Naming offenders increases their future accountability to others. It reflects the gravity of offending and hopefully acts as a deterrent to others. The public, particularly caregivers and children, are entitled to know who these child sexual exploiters are.”