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Comedian’s resentence on child sex charge welcomed

18 April 2012

Comedian’s resentence on child sex charge welcomed

The Auckland High Court has ruled that a well-known comedian, last year discharged without conviction despite admitting sexually assaulting his young daughter, is to be resentenced.

The decision was welcomed by Stop Demand, which works to stop sexual violence against women and children.

Last March the man pleaded guilty to performing an indecent act on his then 4-year old daughter after returning home drunk from a Christmas work party. It was reported that the man laid his daughter on her back after she climbed into bed with her parents, pulled down her pyjama pants and nappy and performed the indecent act, waking his partner.

Last September, Judge Philippa Cunningham ruled that the consequences of a conviction would outweigh the offending. The Judge sparked an outcry, after saying "He's a talented New Zealander. He makes people laugh. Laughter is an incredible medicine and we all need lots of it".

Stop Demand was amongst a small group of protesters outside the Court following the sentencing, to denounce the sentence and messages conveyed by the judge.

The Crown sought a review in the High Court.

Stop Demand’s founder, Denise Ritchie, says. “The extent of incest and familial child sex abuse in this country is a national disgrace. Well-known people should not be getting a ‘free pass’ to commit sex crimes against children. Our mental health system and our prisons are full of adults who have been damaged as a result of childhood sexual abuse. These are crimes that need to be unequivocally denounced by our Courts. To discharge offenders without conviction is a slap in the face to victims. It leaves offenders with blemish-free records and provides no deterrence to future reoffending.”

Justice Murray Gilbert agreed with the Crown submission that the fact the man was drunk should not have been a factor in the earlier sentence.

The man has permanent name suppression to protect the identity of his daughter. It was reported that the man’s partner ended their 5-year relationship following the incident.

Stop Demand calls for action to stop sexual violence, sexual exploitation and sexual denigration of women and children.


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