September 11, 2018 07:11:55
Victim support groups are calling for the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal against the sentence of a woman who had sex with five schoolboys under her care, arguing it was too lenient and she should be in jail.
The 25-year-old former boarding house duty mistress at The Armidale School in northern NSW admitted to having sex with students aged between 15 and 17 after inviting them to her room in late 2014 and 2015.
She was handed a two-year suspended sentence on Monday for six counts of sexual intercourse with a person under her care and three counts of aggravated sexual intercourse.
She walked free from the court having already served 14-and-a-half months in custody while awaiting court proceedings.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said the sentence “defies any kind of logic” and should be appealed immediately.
“We want the DPP to appeal this sentence because it’s manifestly inadequately [and] it appears to be based on gender and not on the laws which have been broken,” she said.
The woman’s barrister told the NSW District Court that she had been under duress at the time of the offences because of the threat that the students would report her if she stopped having sex with them.
However, Ms Johnston said this amounted to “victim blaming”.
“If it was a male in the same situation they would have got a much harsher sentence,” she said.
“We need to take the gender out of this and look at the behaviour.”
Ms Johnston said male and female offending needed to be treated the same.
“We can’t say that it’s less an offence if it’s a female with a boy than it is if it’s a male with a girl — it defies any kind of logic,” she said.
“We have to send a really clear message about adults that have sex with young people and children. It’s not okay under any circumstance ever and if you do it you can expect to go to jail.
“I have no doubt that if it was a man in the same circumstances he would be in jail.”
Sentence not appropriate for the crime
Act for Kids ambassador Sascha Chandler said he was shocked by the lenience of the sentence.
“I think the judge has actually used the word lenient several times in summing up [but] I think it’s more than lenient, it’s irresponsible,” he said.
Mr Chandler, who was abused by a volunteer cadet officer at Sydney’s Barker College in the early 1990s, also questioned whether the woman was given a lighter sentence due to her sex.
He also called for the DPP to appeal against the sentence because it set a “dangerous precedent”.
“At the end of the day we had somebody here who was in authority over a child … it should never have occurred and the sentence should be appropriate and I don’t think a suspended sentence for a crime like that is appropriate.”
September 11, 2018 06:42:04