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Australian Open Molester Shock


POLICE were under fire yesterday for keeping a sexual assault of a boy at the Australian Open a secret for four days.
Parents watching the tennis with their children yesterday were incensed that they had not been warned a child molester was on the loose.
More than 190,000 spectators, including many children, have strolled around Melbourne Park since the boy, 5, was assaulted in toilets at Rod Laver Arena on Monday.
One police spokesman, Leigh Wadeson, yesterday said the crime was "completely isolated".
Another, Katherine Jess, said the official silence was the result of detectives "taking into account the need to inform the public balanced against the risk of jeopardising the investigation".
"In these circumstances, given the nature of the offence and the available evidence, it was deemed not to be an advantage to release the information at the time," she said.
Police said they were examining video security footage and, with the boy's help, had produced a face image of the attacker.
But they refused to release it yesterday.
Australian Open officials said police had ordered them to stay silent.
"Our hands have been tied by the police investigation in terms of sharing this information," Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said. "That's why we didn't come out with the information straight away because we were asked not to.
"They said, `Please keep it quiet,' and I said, `We can do that'."
It's believed the assault became public only because of an anonymous email sent to the media.
The boy was assaulted about 5pm on Monday the same day a violent race brawl erupted in Garden Square as his mother waited outside the toilets.
When he didn't immediately return, his worried mother asked a security guard to investigate.
"The mother was concerned when it took some time for him to come out, so sent a security guard in there, who yelled out to him," Sen-Constable David Fitzgerald said.
The boy followed the guard out and told his mother what had happened. By then, his attacker had fled.
Australian Childhood Foundation chief Dr Joe Tucci criticised the failure to warn parents.
"I think that they have let down the public by not telling people," he said.
"They could have not only told people but issued a series of guidelines to parents to help them decide what to do in those circumstances, rather than just hoping it won't happen again.
"Sex offenders aren't random in their attacks: they're planned, they're manipulative, they're calculated. That's the sort of person you're trying to guard against as a parent."
Parents at Melbourne Park yesterday lashed out.
"I really think they should have said something, or at least give a description of the guy," mother of two Tracey Page said.
Anne Phegan agreed: "That's way too much time. They should have said something."
Therese Corrigan was with her three boys when she was told about the assault by the Herald Sun.
"They absolutely should have told us," she said.
"One of the boys just asked if he could go to the toilet, and I told one of the others to go with him.
"But that's just instinctive I had no idea."
Members of the sexual offences and child abuse unit are investigating.



Herald Sun (20-1-2007)
Sam Edmund
 
 
 

 

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Boy-sex Attack Kept Secret


A TOILET block sexual assault of a five-year-old boy at the Australian Open was kept secret by Victorian police for four days.
Tennis fans were not warned a sex offender was at large after the boy was assaulted in a Rod Laver Arena toilet on Monday.
Police spokeswoman Katherine Jess said yesterday that the decision by investigators had represented a compromise "taking into account the need to inform the public balanced against the risk of jeopardising the investigation".
Australian Open officials yesterday blamed police for the delay, saying detectives had ordered them not to make the attack public.
"Our hands have been tied by the police investigation in terms of sharing this information," Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said.
"They said: 'please keep it quiet' and I said: 'we can do that.' " The boy was assaulted about 5pm on Monday the same day as a violent race brawl erupted between Serbian, Croatian and Greek fans as his mother waited outside. When her son did not return, the worried mother asked a guard to investigate.
"The mother was concerned when it took some time for him to come out so (she) sent a security guard in there who yelled out to him," a police spokesman said.
The boy then followed the guard out of the toilet block and told his mother what had happened.
The attacker fled before the boy re-emerged.
Since then, more than 190,000 spectators, many of them children, have strolled round Melbourne Park unaware of the attack.
Australian Childhood Foundation chief Joe Tucci castigated Tennis Australia and police for failing to warn parents that a sex offender was at large.
"I think that they have let down the public by not telling people," Dr Tucci said.
Police said they were examining video footage and had produced a facial image of the attacker with the boy's help.
They refused to release it yesterday.



The Courier Mail (19-1-2007)
Sam Edmund




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