Monday, 22 August 2016

Judge Christopher Ryan

Judge Ryan recently sat on a case that involved a former  32 year old security guard, Franco Abad,  for the Children’s Court and a 14 year old living in a Department of Human Services residential unit. The 14 year old had told the security guard that she was 17 years of age and he had commenced a sexual relationship with her.  He had subsequently been charged with sexual abuse of a minor.  The Judge made a number of comments during sentencing which suggested that the young woman was equally culpable in what had happened.

I had thought we had moved past the stage when women were blamed for what they wore or how they behaved and we looked at the behaviour of the offender.  Mr Abad was 32. He had met a vulnerable young woman at his place of work.  He continued the relationship after he knew the young woman was only 14. The Judge seemed to pass over some of these facts and suggest that if young women show an interest in an older man then it is hard for the man to resist not that older men should have more sense than to be swayed by underage females.

There are also a number of other issues here.  The Judge’s comments were inappropriate, the guard behaved inappropriately and the Children’s Court needs a policy that is very clear for staff and/or contractors about what is expected in terms of relationships with clients of the Court whatever age they might be. It is a fair assumption that anyone attending the court as a client is vulnerable.  Vulnerable young people need protection.