Brock Turner’s statement

All I can do from these events moving forward is by proving to everyone who I really am as a person.

You’re doing a pretty good job of proving who you really are already, Brock. This statement of yours being a case in point…

Conflicting thoughts

I read a couple of interesting articles this week with very different opinions about Woody Allen. I have mixed feelings on the issue. I should write about it…

What are your thoughts? Is the media silencing victims when they don’t raise allegations of abuse in interviews? Should Allen be denied a spot in a film festival due to his past? Does a conviction make a difference?

NaBloPoMo: I did it!

One post a day, every day for a month! I tried NaBloPoMo once many years ago, on an earlier blog. Actually, I think it was on LiveJournal. But I gave up about half way through the month. Really pleased to have completed it this time.

I still hope to keep posting here, but now that the pressure is off, posts will probably be sporadic. If you’re reading this, ask questions and I’ll answer them in future updates…

My story: sentencing

I spoke about the court process yesterday. To round out the month, I’ll talk briefly about the charges I received and the sentencing for them.

As I said in my post about getting caught, I was arrested due to my habit of taking candid photos of teenage girls I saw in public. The initial charge for this was stalking. Whilst that particular incident wouldn’t really classify as stalking from a psychological perspective, the evidence of other photos I’d taken helped secure a conviction.

I had also shared some of the photos I’d taken online. Whilst the photos themselves were technically legal, the context meant I was charged with “using a carriage service to offend”.

Those charges were issued on the basis of what I revealed in my interview with Police and what was found on my phone and camera. The problem, though, from a Police perspective, is that stalking is not a relevant offence under the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA). And when you catch someone who is sexually attracted to children and has young victims, you want to get them on the registry.

So, Police delved deeper into the contents of my computer. I had always been careful to avoid child pornography, partly for legal reasons, and partly because it didn’t really appeal to me. What I was most interested in were photos of girls just being themselves, whether that be in candid photos like the ones I had taken, or various other photos people had collected from around the web.

The offences in the Crimes Act are still titled possession of child pornography and production of child pornography, but when it comes to assessing what does and does not classify, the proper term is used: child exploitation material. Some of the photos I had saved were considered to be non-sexual, but exploitative by forensic investigators, which meant they were able to charge me with possession. And, for whatever reason, saving the files to disk is considered to be production, so they added that to the charge sheet as well. (So, if you read articles in the news about people being charged with production of child pornography, it doesn’t necessarily mean they created it in the first place.)

My lawyer discussed the court summary with the prosecutor, and pointed out that it would be duplicitous to have both the possess and produce charges, as they are basically for the same thing. So, the prosecutor dropped the possess charge, leaving the more serious offence on the table. This makes a real difference, as a single charge results in an 8 year term on the registry, and multiple offences (or offences that are more serious) result in a 15 year term on the registry.

So, the final sentence:

  • A fine for the “using a carriage service to offend” charge, as that comes under federal law and can’t be bundled in with the Victorian charges.
  • A two year Community Corrections Order (CCO) for the other charges, including a condition to do a mental health assessment and adhere to any recommendations, such as participating in a group therapy programme.
  • Eight years on the Sex Offenders Registry.
  • Forfeiture of my computer equipment and other seized items.

Yes, it could have been a lot harsher, and no doubt many people would say that it should have been. What I do know is that the Magistrate was considering a prison term as one of the sentencing options, and I think it’s likely he would have chosen that option had I not already made significant progress in treatment with my psychologist. A risk assessment showed there was a low risk of me committing a contact offence, and the Corrections assessment showed that I was a suitable candidate for a CCO.

Tips for offenders:

  • Get in early and start taking affirmative action to learn from your past and put new strategies in place for the future. If your lawyer can’t recommend a good psychologist, find one yourself. Basically, you can’t expect to be treated fairly unless you’re actually going to make a change.
  • The world owes you nothing. Accept what you’ve done, be respectful, show deference. If you minimise or rationalise your actions, or go in with a whiny attitude, you’ll be judged accordingly. Sentencing is about holding you to account for past actions and ensuring community safety into the future. Instead of focusing on what you think is fair, or how the sentence will affect you, put the focus on what you’re doing to change, and how a CCO can help you achieve that.

My story: the court process

I haven’t spoken about court yet, so let’s touch on that now. Like the majority of criminal cases, mine was dealt with entirely through Magistrate’s Court. The court system operates like a funnel, or a sieve. Typically, cases are initially raised in the Magistrate’s Court, and most matters are completed there, too. A few cases filter through to the County Court – perhaps where a defendant appeals a sentence, or is pleading not guilty and a trial is required.

I actually ended up appearing in court a few times. The first was to request an adjournment, as the Police brief arrived late, with additional charges, and my lawyers wanted more time to review and prepare. This worked in my favour, as it gave me more time to work with my psychologist. That progress would subsequently be reflected in her report for the court.

The case was heard at the second appearance. One thing that struck me is how quickly cases are heard, at least in the Magistrate’s Court, where they have a high case load to get through. To me, the case seemed to have enough complexity that it could be debated back and forth for some time, but that’s not how it works. The prosecution prepares a summary in advance, and that paragraph or two is all that is presented to the court. I was grateful for that. Sure, it was still difficult standing there and hearing all the hard facts being uttered, but I was glad that they don’t elaborate with circumstantial evidence and emotional arguments.

Even though the hearing itself was reasonably short, it was still a long day. Lots of waiting for the case to be called, and by the time it was, it was too late to get an assessment from Corrections, which the Magistrate wanted before making a decision. So, I returned a week later for the Corrections assessment and subsequent sentencing.

All in all, a stressful experience that I hope never to repeat, but not as bad as it could have been. I’ll talk about the sentencing itself in another post.


I’m very glad the most stressful period is over, and now I can live a relatively stable life. But it’s a small world, and there’s always s chance of bumping into someone who knows, as happened tonight.

I’m now out of the social group I was in, but the shared interest means our lives still intersect. Tonight’s encounter was with friends of my ex. Uncomfortable and awkward for both parties. It could have been worse: at least it wasn’t my ex herself who was there. But I still count it as a setback, as it’s going to take a little while for my emotional state to return to normal.

It’s hard to know how to act in such situations. I could simply not talk to them, as if we don’t even know each other. And after tonight’s stony reception, that’s probably what I’ll do next time. On this occasion, however, we were both there to see a mutual friend and it would have looked odd to refuse to approach.

So, I default to acting normally, as if I believe that we still have a civil acquaintance. But I worry that this makes me appear ignorant. That they’re standing there, thinking: “Holy fuck, he doesn’t get it, does he? How can he just go on with his life as if nothing has happened? How dare he think he has any right to talk to us?”

But of course I know. Of course I’m aware of the gravity of the situation. Of course I know when I’m not wanted. But I think it’s just a sensitive situation where there’s no good way to handle it.

Discomfort aside, I guess the other reason I feel a sense of anxiety about this encounter is that I suspect they’re finding it very difficult to keep my offences secret from others. Judging by personality and other clues I’ve picked up along the way, I suspect they feel it their duty to tell others: either to warn them (as if I’m a threat), or to disabuse them off the notion that I’m a good person.

Is it possible to live a normal life as a convicted sex offender? Time will tell… But will they?

Justice vs. Sex

So, I’m on the Sex Offenders Registry for eight years. What’s the bet there’ll be changes to legislation between now and then? Changes that get grandfathered into the current scheme and therefore apply to people already on the registry? Applying penalties retrospectively is something you generally just don’t do in law, but there’s a push for it when it comes to sex offences.

We’ve already seen it happen here in Victoria with the Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Act 2009, which allows the courts to order a longer period of detention or supervision that will apply after the offender is released from prison. But that law was designed to help protect the community from serious offenders with a history of violent, predatory behaviour and little in the way of remorse. Whilst I disagree with retrospective punishment in principle, I can understand why this scheme may have been deemed a necessary trade off.

Chances are, though, that any changes to the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 would be applied to everyone on the registry, regardless of severity of the offence or the offender’s risk of re-offending. I anticipate two main pushes:

  1. To have the registry made public.
  2. To extend the term of registration for some or all offenders, to make it longer or even indefinite.

Spearheading this push is Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party. Hinch has a history of naming and shaming, earning him a host of supporters and multiple convictions for contempt of court.

When he announced his new political party, Fiona Patten spoke favourably of his entry into politics, and highlighted the opportunity for the Sex Party to work with him:

Fiona Patten, a friend of Mr Hinch’s and the Sex Party’s first Victorian Upper House MP, indicated there would likely be a preference swap between her party and the broadcaster.
“Derryn and I are in furious agreement on a number of issues and I think we will work together in the upcoming [federal] election,” she said.
Ms Patten said the Sex Party did not have the same policy as Mr Hinch’s on naming and shaming sex offenders but they were “on the same page” as “pro-choice, anti-government censorship, the right of adults to view what they want on the internet and dying with dignity”.

I’m a fan of Fiona Patten and the Sex Party. And honestly, I agree with a range of positions held by Derryn Hinch, such as his support for euthanasia and abortion rights. But I disagree that a public sex offenders registry would increase public safety, particularly if it’s an instrument that gets used indiscriminately.

I’m pleased to hear the Sex Party does not hold the same position on naming and shaming, but the potential for a preference deal increases the chances of the Justice Party gaining some power in Parliament. It’s going to be an interesting election next year. And even if he’s not successful this time around, there’s always the next one.

Nine months down. Seven years and three months left to survive. Hopefully.


Christmas approaches

We alternate Christmases. I have the kids one Christmas, and their mum has them the next.

I just realised, with mild alarm, that it would be my turn to organise gifts from Santa this year, as the kids will be with me. I have enough trouble thinking what to get them from me, let alone what Santa’s going to leave in their stockings. (Sure, they know where the presents come from now, but that’s no reason to break with tradition!)

But, of course, it was false alarm. Yes, they’ll spend Christmas Day with me, but they won’t wake up here. I’m still on supervised visits, which in effect translates to “no sleepovers”. So, instead of having them every weekend, from Friday to Sunday, I see them just for the one day. It’s not too bad, but there are times when I long for some more time with them.

Child Protection could see that the kids are not at risk, and so were able to close off their file. But they still left things hanging, making a parting recommendation that visits be supervised. There was nothing in writing, but I don’t want to stir up trouble down the track by ignoring the recommendation.

So, that’s where things are at. The file is closed, so the recommendation is not scheduled for review. And I guess I could request a review, but without some sense for how that might play out, I’m not sure I have the courage to do so. :-(

Violence against women

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Here in Australia, it manifests itself as White Ribbon Day, which I guess is a bit less of a mouthful…

Clementine Ford wrote a great article today about how the White Ribbon campaign risks being little more than ineffective tokenism – something “good guys” can pledge their support to, before resuming day-to-day life where they don’t call out violence, misogyny and privilege. She points out how simply voicing our horror about violence against women isn’t enough; how we need to address the patriarchy behind it.

Being male, white, middle aged, cisgendered, heterosexual, and living above the poverty line, I’m certainly in a position of privilege. I would like to do more to tackle the problem of misogyny and it’s effects, but I’m also keenly aware that my own past actions fly in the face of my values. Can I call out misogyny without being labelled a hypocrite? I guess I can if it’s not in front of people who know my history. But I still know, and realise that there’s a disconnect there.

I try to remember that sometimes the best thing to do is simply to step back and allow women to have a voice and take the lead. But I will continue to support change and advocate for it where I can; to work towards a society where my daughter can be shaped by who she is, not by what others expect her to be. Aside from that, I guess the most important thing I can do is focus on my recovery and ensure I don’t offend again.