Prosecutor: Gang-rape of ten-year-old was “childish experimentation”

Again: all kinds of trigger warnings.

Via Lauredhel, more disturbing information has come to light about the Australian case of the ten-year-old girl who, according to a judge, “probably agreed to have sex” with the 6 youths and 3 legal adults who gang-raped her. Brace yourself.

The child – who had been living in a Cairns foster home before the department decided to return her to Aurukun, in Cape York – has been diagnosed as “mildly intellectually impaired” and suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, having been born to an alcohol-dependent mother. [. . .]

An eight-month investigation was conducted into the April 2006 multiple rape and submitted to the Department of Child Safety, resulting in one senior officer being sacked and two others suspended for 12 months on full pay – a situation that still exists.

A senior departmental official yesterday told The Australian that the child involved was sexually abused at age seven and, as a safety measure, was put with various foster families, eventually ending up in 2005 with a non-indigenous family in Cairns. But she was returned nine months later to Aurukun, where she was gang-raped by the nine males. [. . .]

The investigating committee also reported that the Child Safety officers took no remedial action when the girl threatened to commit suicide. [. . .]

The committee also found the child had first contracted syphilis in April 2002 when she was aged seven and was raped by five juveniles in Aurukun, receiving severe genital injuries.

I don’t even know what to say. The girl was gang-raped at the age of seven. She was then removed from her community, because it was believed that she would not be safe there. Child Protective Services then moved her back from her foster home because of concerns over the historical and social impact of Aboriginal children living with white parents. The government is now calling this “rubbish” and trying to blame the situation on some kind of racial prejudice against white people, though it’s never explained why the girl could not have been placed in foster care with Aboriginal parents or simply in a different Aboriginal community. [Note: I do not know enough to say one way or the other whether or not the girl should have been removed from the care of the white family. What I’m saying is that blaming the call to remove her doesn’t fly, because many other actions could have been taken that would have put her at less of a risk for danger.]

It gets a lot worse, though. It turns out that, though the judge is certainly to blame, she cannot bear all of the responsibility for the atrocity of this ruling. Why? Because the prosecutor in the case told her that the rape was “childish experimentation.” No. Not the defense attorney. The prosecutor. The one who is meant to act in the best interest of the ten-year-old, mentally disabled, previously sexually abused rape victim. He also called her and her rapists “naughty.”

Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine said late Tuesday the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions would investigate the conduct of Steve Carter, the senior legal officer responsible for Cape York matters in the DPP’s Cairns chambers.

Court transcripts released Tuesday showed Mr Carter had described the 2006 incident as “childish experimentation” and consensual “in a general sense”. [. . .]

While the Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare declined to comment, her office released transcripts of the court case.

They revealed that during the case, Mr Carter described the incident – in which the girl contracted a sexually transmitted disease – as “consensual sex”.

“To the extent I can’t say it was consensual in the legal sense, but in the other – in the general sense, the non-legal sense – yes, it was,” Mr Carter told the court.

Mr Carter said the sex had been prearranged and the males had not forced themselves on the girl.

“… they’re very naughty for doing what they’re doing but it’s really, in this case, it was a form of childish experimentation, rather than one child being prevailed upon by another,” he said.

Mr Carter also told the court such incidents were not out of character in small, remote communities.

” … children, females, have got to be – deserve – the same protection under the law in an Aboriginal or an indigenous community as they do in any other community,” Mr Carter said.

“But sometimes things happen in a small community when children get together.”

The outrageous racism and misogyny in all of these statements infuriate and sting me to my very core. The prosecutor — again, the prosecutor — argued in court that the ten-year-old victim of rape was able to consent to sex with 9 different males, all significantly older than her. The judge was wrong, and there’s no excuse for her ruling, because any decent person can see through this bullshit. And yet, at the same time, we have a prosecutor here who told her to make a ruling that was not in the best interest of the victim. We have a prosecutor, in addition to a judge, who was saying that the ten-year-old mentally disabled girl could and did consent to group sex — “naughty” group sex.

Not only that, but in defense for his outrageous statements, Carter gives the “hey, this is just what those people do” argument. As I said yesterday, this is very much about the view that Aboriginal girls are sexually promiscuous. And we already know that females viewed as “promiscuous” are also viewed as “un-rapable.” Aboriginal men are also viewed as being sexually aggressive and ravenous to the point of being unable to control themselves. This is an insult to every Aboriginal person, every person of color and every reasonably-thinking person out there. It’s an insult to decency, to justice, and certainly the little girl who has been victimized at every turn, only to have her counsel say that “sometimes things happen.” This rape has nothing to do with the fact that the victim and perpetrators were Aboriginal and lived in an Aboriginal community. To suggest that it is racist beyond belief, and to do so as a prosecutor in a court of law should be considered criminal in itself.

At Hoyden About Town, a commenter makes the point that disabled women are routinely seen by authorities as sexually promiscuous and likely to lie about sexual assault — even though disabled women are at more of a risk for abuse. This girl had a lot going against her — her race, her gender, her class and her disability — and the ways in which all of this has been used to victimize and re-victimize her is utterly disgusting.

Further compounding the situation is the fact that 17, 18 and 26-year-old men cannot engage in “childish experimentation” with a ten-year-old girl. Twenty-six-year-olds, particularly those with a history of pedophilia, should not be considered to be engaged in “childish experimentation” at all. It’s not only clearly not what happened here, it’s just plain impossible. For fuck’s sake, this isn’t a bunch of kids sitting around playing “doctor.” What we have here is a doubly racist situation, the simultaneous belief that Aboriginal men are “childish” and sexually ravenous and therefore can’t be held responsible for their actions, coupled with the belief that a ten-year-old mentally disabled Aboriginal girl is sexually mature enough to make autonomous sexual decisions.

I . . . I just want to cry. And I don’t know how to say it any better or any more simply than this:

Hetty Johnston, founder of Bravehearts, said a judicial inquiry was needed.

“The prosecutor is there to defend the rights of the victims – that man is standing behind the wrong desk,” Ms Johnston told AAP.

In addition to the statement’s accuracy, it’s also an appropriate metaphor. It seems that all of countless people here who were supposed to protect this child were standing behind the wrong desk.

0 thoughts on “Prosecutor: Gang-rape of ten-year-old was “childish experimentation”

  1. Thealogian

    Every single person involved in this case should be brought up on charges of neglect–neglect of this girl, neglect of their oaths, neglect of their basic human capacity for reasoning.

    Jesus on a cracker, can a mistrial be called? Can the judge and the prosecutor be recalled? Does Mia Farrow or Angelina need to adopt that child to protect her or are their Austrialians (white, aborginal, South-East Asian?) who are willing to give her a home and some semblance of a childhood?


  2. Cara Post author

    There are calls for the judge to step down, and both the prosecutor and the social workers are “under investigation.” The attorney-general of the state is launching an appeal, and the Premier has put all of the sexual assault cases from the area from the past two years under review.

    This story is getting strong national attention, in addition to some international attention. People are really fucking pissed off, including government officials from every level and the new PM. I’m hoping that this will cause action to be taken, but certainly hold no false hopes. I will update with any more news once it’s available.

  3. Ken

    Yes, this girl’s case is getting well deserved publicity; now.

    I do not know why the excreta is now, just, hitting the fan. Remember this case has gone past the ‘normal’ limit for appeal of 28 days.

    If this girl had been non aboriginal, I am positive that there would been an out cry during the case and the ridiculousness of the sentences would have been in the first issues of media after the case was concluded.

    All the systems that are suppose to protect her, until Monday, when the story hit the airways, have failed her.

    Not only the legal system, the social services but also the media. This story should have been in the media within seconds of this disgusting sentence being handed down.

    The only ones that I understand have actually done any good for this child are the police who investigated the case and laid the charges and some of the women in the girls community.

  4. Holly

    Good job on putting the trigger warnings, but my curious little mind read on anyway. This actually made me physically sick to read. What a fucking society, huh?

  5. Jemima

    This is the sort of failures in the justice systems, that can really tempt me to go vigilante on someones’s ass. In which part of ‘disabled (possibly heavily traumatized) 10-year-old’ did anyone read ‘sex free for all’? I don’t get it. Sure, we may disagree with a court ruling – it happens often enough – but this is so far beyond all remains of common sense that it’s ridiculous. How that judge could rule how she did I don’t understand. Being racist is one thing, but the kid is TEN!!!

    Racists tend to see the other ‘races’ as inferior, but wouldn’t that mean a ten-year-old of another race would equal a 5 year old of one’s own? They can’t even make sense of their own convictions. So they’re inferior, but they grow up earlier? Huh? They lost me right there.

    They probably lost the poor girl too. Has anyone heard what’ll happen to the poor lass after this ordeal?

  6. carly

    i am sickened by what has happened to this young girl, and as if being gang raped isnt bad enough, but now her rapists have gotten away with it, and she is made to feel like it is all her fault!! the out come of this case would have been COMPLETELY different if the young girl had of been a white australian. its disgusting to know just how shallow some australians are and still base everything on race.

  7. Paula

    Traditional Law is the right way to punishment.
    Having been sentenced in jail is like a holiday in Hawaii. free bed, free roof over your head, free food & drink, people to talk to and joke around with. The leader of Aurukun, is a leader for the community and the people
    (not mentioning the name unless given permission.)
    The Traditional Law for punishment is to send the victims into the bush for as long as the people of the Community accepts thier return. They will search for their traditional food; sweet patatoes, mudshell, fish, crabs and all of those are tough and need much strength to find and also especially waiting for the right seasons. Building a own roof over their head needs much strength aswell, first of all they are going to need rope to tie wood and leaves together and they wont have it in their hands ready made, they are going to have to find it aswell and knot it together. Do you think they will have a lighter in their pocket? (lighting fire is also traditional, by rubbing the stick into a woodensocket with dry leaves.)it can be tiring and swelling of hands..) The journey alone in the Bush becomes tiring and lonely and to mention having places where the natives perform ceremonies are sacred, being a native makes you see many things a whitefella does not see especially at night… They have much time to think about their actions and the consequences the have been given, which indeed could be repeated if had to.

  8. Paula

    These boys come from a Native Community, where we have a leader with own Laws and which the people of the Community accepts as one. Ofcourse it is sad to be punished no matter what you have done. It is painfull on both sides, It’s a human instinct especially when it is one of your own.
    I know certainly that my people would be honoured to carry out such Native Law and would certainely understand this prosedure. More then the whitelaw…

    I believe in the near future we all as one have learned a lesson. Which will no more, be carried out to an extend it has taken of our woman, men and children of publicity.
    By the “Native Law”.

    I share my thoughts on behalf of all Aboriginal people.
    Thank you for taking your time
    My thoughts are with K..

  9. Pingback: What does it take? : The Curvature

  10. Pingback: Queensland Attorney-General: Some Rapes “Minor,” “Technical” : The Curvature

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