Treatment not jail for pedophiles
July 17, 2007
PEDOPHILES who prey on family members could avoid prosecution under alternative options being explored by child sex abuse investigator Ted Mullighan, QC.
The former Supreme Court judge is examining programs which counsel and treat sex offenders rather than jailing them.
Diverting cases involving family members and those with "close relationships to their victims" away from the criminal justice system was first mooted by a major South Australian inquiry into child sexual abuse 21 years ago.
While Mr Mullighan, the head of the Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry, told The Advertiser he believed it was "something that should be considered", he admitted he had reservations.
"One of the concerns about it is that perpetrators say `oh yeah, sure I'll be in that' because they don't have to go to prison . . . but I'm not sure what the long-term results are, and we're just going to do some work on that," he revealed.
"It operates in NSW and it has been around for a long time, but we want to see how it really works – I've heard evidence, but I want to see how effective it is."
Commissioner for Victims' Rights, Michael O'Connell, said yesterday: "We need to know more about the direct and indirect benefits for victims, and the pitfalls.
"We need to be careful not to be overtaken by sweeping generalisations that restorative justice is good for victims.
"Some victims will participate if given the opportunity to do so; but all victims should have the right to be consulted and influence the decision on whether to divert a case into a restorative justice program, or not".
Mr O'Connell said some victims felt strongly that offenders "deserve to be punished", while others were less retributive.
According to a 1986 State Government report, criminal proceedings against pedophiles could be suspended and cases ultimately dismissed if offenders agreed to counselling and treatment.