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Media Release – Outrage at sentence of predatory sex offender

Child Wise, Australia’s leading international child protection charity are outraged at the 15 month jail term handed down to convicted Australian child sex tourist Geoffrey John Prigge.
On 12 November, Geoffrey Prigge, 55 of Mosman, was the first Australian convicted of child sex tourism offences in Nepal. At the trial at the District Court in Sydney, Prigge was found guilty of five charges related to indecent touching and attempted acts of indecency involving three Nepalese boys aged 13 and 14. Prigge was also found guilty of possessing child pornography in his home in Mosman.
Prigge reportedly helped to set up an orphanage in Nepal and was known as a "man of charity". The offences were part of a "careful grooming process" that started when he visited Nepal on a previous occasion and took indecent photographs of boys. Returning to Nepal in 2007, he committed the offences as he showed the victims indecent pictures and a pornographic film in his hotel room.
Leading child rights advocate and CEO of Child Wise, Bernadette McMenamin condemns the sentence handed to Prigge and states that “it reflects the backward trend in Australia where people who offend overseas are not actively pursued and prosecuted. This predatory offender used an orphanage to sexually abuse some of the most vulnerable children and all he gets is a slap on the wrist. If these Nepalese children were Australian, then Prigge would have received a much higher sentence. The sentence clearly shows that the Australian courts do not believe that children overseas have the same rights or need the same protection from our own sexual predators.”
Child Wise believe that Australia was once held as international leaders in the protection of children, with the introduction of child protection laws. In 2008, Australia improved laws by including preparatory offences, increasing sentences and including the possession of child pornography in its laws to protect children from sexual exploitation.
The new laws enacted earlier this year dictate that Australians such as Prigge who exploit a position of trust or authority, or take advantage of a child’s mental impairment to commit sexual abuse overseas can be jailed for up to 25 years. Bernadette McMenamin also comments that “a 15 month sentence falls abysmally short from the 25 year maximum penalty for this crime. Australia should be ashamed of this sentence as the conviction is totally inadequate and requires an immediate appeal. The court’s decision does not reflect the seriousness of the crimes committed, especially when these children will live with the trauma of abuse for the rest of their lives. This man abused his duty of care, sexually abused children and also possessed child pornography and yet the laws enacted to protect his victims have not been utilised. What is the use of implementing tough laws with 25 year penalties if we do not use them?”


www.childwisecambodia.net (16-11-2010)
http://www.childwisecambodia.net/images/stories/documents/Media_releases/Geoffrey_John_Prigge_16_November_2010.pdf




Nepal charity work hid predator's sex abuse of children

Abuse of power - Geoffrey Prigge was convicted of child sex-tourism offences.

He helped set up an orphanage in Nepal and was known as a ''man of charity''. But there was a darker side to Geoffrey John Prigge's interest in children, said the judge who jailed him for molesting teenage boys.
Prigge, 55, of Mosman, was the first Australian convicted of child sex-tourism offences committed while in Nepal. He was charged under legislation allowing Australians who offend overseas to be investigated by the Australian Federal Police and prosecuted at home.
At his trial in the District Court in Sydney, a jury found him guilty of five charges related to indecent touching and attempted acts of indecency involving three Nepalese boys aged 13 and 14. He also pleaded guilty to the possession of child pornography at his home in Mosman.
Sentencing him on Friday, Judge John Nicholson said that to his friends and relatives, Prigge was community-oriented and gregarious, but ''to three Nepalese boys … he presented as a predatory, manipulative paedophile''.
The offences were part of a ''careful grooming process'' that began on an earlier visit to Nepal when Prigge, a photographer and charity worker, took indecent photographs of boys, the judge said. Returning in 2007, he committed the offences as he showed the victims indecent pictures and a pornographic film in his hotel room.
The court was told the Nepalese appreciate the value of tourism. Judge Nicholson said the boys, who came to Sydney to give evidence, sought to welcome Prigge and downplay his sexual interest in them to accommodate a foreign visitor.
The difference in the financial status of tourists from a First-World country and the local population helped create a ''tidal wave of power abuse'', the judge said, adding that Prigge's crimes were ''a serious abuse of power''.
The federal police's national co-ordinator of child protection operations, Alison Wegg, said that even abroad, Australians were not beyond the reach of federal law.
Intervening before children are harmed is a key strategy for the federal police, who can cancel the passports of suspected child sex tourists. Under new laws, planning a child sex-tourism offence or grooming or procuring a child for sexual activity overseas is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
Prigge will serve 15 months behind bars, to be released in February 2012.


www.smh.com.au (15-11-2010)
Kim Arlington
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/nepal-charity-work-hid-predators-sex-abuse-of-children-20101114-17sq2.html




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