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Child-porn accused MP in makes first court appearance


IT lasted just minutes, was shrouded in secrecy and was another low point in the Rann Government's bad week.
Yesterday, the former Labor MP charged with child pornography offences attended the Adelaide Magistrates Court for the first time.
His appearance follows Tuesday's public relations nightmare that saw former Treasurer Kevin Foley accused in court of "forcing himself" on two young women before he was allegedly assaulted.
Mr Foley strenuously denied that claim in Parliament and during a press conference.
State law bans any report of the MP's brief hearing.
A large media contingent gathered outside the court just after 9am, with the MP arriving shortly before his scheduled 10am appearance, flanked by barrister Michael Abbott, QC, and the MP's legal team.
He was arrested at his home on April 20 and charged with one count of possessing child pornography, one aggravated count of possessing child pornography and two counts of taking steps to access child pornography.
At the time, police said the arrest was the result of the Sexual Crime Investigation Branch's ongoing "Operation Decimate", which targets those who use the internet for child exploitation.
Yesterday, neither the MP nor Mr Abbott commented as they made their way through the media pack, ignoring questions posed by reporters.
As soon as he walked into the court building, the MP entered a legislated "cone of silence".
Reporting of alleged sex crimes is restricted by the Evidence Act (1929) - the same piece of law that governs suppression orders.
The media may not publish any evidence tendered, nor submission made, in the Magistrates Court relating to an alleged sex offence.
It is further banned from naming alleged offenders and victims.
A sex crime is considered to be "any offence involving sexual exploitation or abuse of a child as an object of prurient interest". Fines of up to $120,000 apply for breaches of the Act.
On Wednesday, Attorney-General John Rau announced that a review of the section of the Evidence Act relating to sex crimes would be conducted by former NT Supreme Court Justice Brian Martin.
Justice Martin conducted the trials of backpacker-killer Bradley Murdoch, and of "bodies in the barrels" serial killers John Justin Bunting and Robert Joe Wagner.
Yesterday was the MP's first court appearance since his release on police bail.
Usually, such a hearing is concerned with setting a timetable for the case.
It is followed, a month later, by a declarations date - when evidence is tendered and discussed - and, another month after that, with a plea hearing.
By law, alleged offenders can be named and their cases reported once they have entered pleas.
Yesterday, the MP and his lawyers emerged from the court room less than five minutes after they entered.
His solicitor, Dominic Agresta, was involved in an incident with a member of the media in the lobby.
The MP and his legal team then made their way silently through the media pack and walked away along Angas St.
It is understood he will appear in court again in August.
The MP was suspended from the Australian Labor Party on May 2.



AdelaideNow 21-5-2011
Court Reporter Sean Fewster
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/child-porn-mp-in-makes-first-court-appearance/story-e6frea83-1226059528597


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Mike Rann announces child porn laws review


PREMIER Mike Rann has told Parliament no one convicted of child pornography offences is fit to hold public office and announced a review into laws banning the publication of people charged with such allegations.
In a highly-anticipated statement today, Mr Rann told Parliament he had enlisted Attorney-General John Rau to commission an independent review of the laws.
Mr Rann said Labor had a record of strengthening laws to protect children.
Mr Rann said the charged Labor MP was entitled to the presumption of innocence.
"Cases involving the sexual abuse of children including child pornography, justifiably provoke strong community reactions," he said.
"In cases where allegations of sexual exploitation of children are proven, I too am sickened by such repugnant and abhorrent criminal behaviour."
Mr Rann acknowledged the inability for the MP to be named "has caused public disquiet".
Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar. .End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar. "It may well be that the rationale for not publishing an accused's name is no longer persuasive or does not have public support," he said.
"The fact that the prohibition lapses when the case is dismissed or not proceeded with calls into question the rationale for such a prohibition.
"The relatively recent development of the internet and especially social media has meant that the name of an accused is often published extensively within a very short time.
"Such publication is difficult to monitor and makes enforcement virtually impossible.
"I have asked the Attorney-General to arrange an independent review of law in this area."



AdelaideNow 3-5-2011
Political Reporter Daniel Wills
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/mike-rann-announces-child-porn-laws-review/story-e6frea83-1226049197863



Child-porn accused MP dumped from South Australian Labor Party


A SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MP has been suspended from the Australian Labor Party after being charged with child pornography offences.
ALP state secretary Michael Brown said the move was unanimous and followed a request from Premier Mike Rann.
The move allows the MP to remain in Parliament as an independent. However, conviction would result in immediate expulsion from office and the party.
Mr Rann led the push to have the Labor MP charged with child pornography charges suspended from the ALP during a phone hookup this morning, which included members of the state and national executive.
Earlier, Mr Rann said he had asked the ALP to suspend the member while the MP's case was before the courts.
"I have asked the Labor Party both at the state and national level to suspend the MP who's been charged," Mr Rann said this morning.
"I think it'd be inappropriate for them to be a member of the Labor Caucus during the time of these legal proceedings," he said.
Parliament will tomorrow be warned not to name the Labor MP at the centre of a child pornography scandal as doing so would jeopardise the court case.
Speaker Lyn Breuer yesterday said she would also intervene to prevent the accused being named if she believed an MP was intending to do so.
Ms Breuer told AdelaideNow she wanted a review of parliamentary regulations as the controversy had highlighted procedural gaps.
While there would be no legal punishment for an MP who named the accused for political reasons, doing so could damage the prosecution case in court.
Premier Mike Rann will tomorrow make a "major statement" to Parliament on the affair, when he is expected to announce the MP's intention to take extended leave.
But Labor insiders won't rule out a surprise appearance from the MP in defiance of calls for the person to quit.
It is understood Mr Rann has taken expensive legal advice in preparing the statement.
Ms Breuer said she would warn Parliament when sitting resumed of serious consequences for naming the charged Labor MP.
"It's about the impact it can have actually on the trial we've got to be careful about," she said yesterday.
"Sometimes somebody can release a name or something in public and the trial falls into a heap because the evidence has been distorted.
"They need to be very, very careful about what they say."



AdelaideNow 2-5-2011
By Staff Writers
http://www.news.com.au/national/rann-pushes-for-mps-suspension/story-e6frfkvr-1226048446857#ixzz1LGDAo75P



Child porn is sick, Premier says


ANYONE guilty of being involved in child porn does not deserve to be in Parliament, the Premier says.
Mike Rann yesterday declined to comment on the Labor MP arrested on Wednesday on multiple child pornography charges for legal reasons, although he did confirm he had not spoken to the person or asked for their resignation.
It is understood the person intends staying in Parliament and will continue to draw a parliamentary salary, despite being urged by colleagues to resign.
One MP said Parliament would be a "circus" if the person was present when Parliament resumes on May 3.
The Opposition has called for the person to take leave.
"It is impossible for me, illegal for me, to comment on the case currently before the courts so I won't talk about that but I will talk generally," Mr Rann said.
"There could hardly be anything more serious, more sickening, more repugnant than child abuse and child abuse involving child pornography.
"If anyone is found guilty in the community of using child pornography in any way they are unfit for any public office, unfit for public life, they are unfit to be in Parliament.
"Things the community find repugnant, and I find repugnant, is any form of abuse of children, and child pornography is an abuse of children.
"Anyone found guilty of such practices does not deserve any sympathy, does not deserve to be in public life."
Mr Rann said he had no knowledge of the investigation before the arrest and found out about it from a television news bulletin.
Opposition frontbencher David Pisoni said the arrest was a matter for the Labor Party as well as the courts.
"These are shocking revelations and as an MP I'm appalled but the ALP endorsed this person and the ALP has to deal with this," he said.
"The Labor party put this person in Parliament, Labor has to deal with it."
MPs convicted of an offence with a maximum sentence of more than two years' prison are forced to forfeit their seats.
Operation Decimate detectives have charged the person with possessing child pornography, an aggravated count of possessing child pornography and two counts of taking steps to access the material.
The maximum penalty for an aggravated offence is seven years' prison.



Sunday Mail(24-4-2011)
Brad Crouch
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/child-porn-is-sick-rann/story-e6frea83-1226043866727



MP child porn charges shatter South Australian Labor Party

Premier Mike Rann flew into Adelaide and straight into a media storm yesterday
Premier Mike Rann flew into Adelaide and straight into a media storm yesterday

THE Labor Party in South Australia is reeling from a sex scandal involving a Labor MP.
Poor poll results, party infighting and calls for a leadership change add to its woes.
Party MPs were in shock yesterday, after police seized laptop computers, computer discs and a mobile phone from the accused MP's home.
In a statement, Premier Mike Rann said: "Like others, I was shocked by reports I read in the newspaper this morning".
"For legal reasons, no person, including me as Premier, is at liberty to reveal the identity of the person, the subject of the allegations, or to disclose any information through which others may infer the identity of the person."
"It would be against the law for me to comment on the allegations, as the matter is now before the courts," the Premier said.
Mr Rann said he believed any potential witnesses should co-operate fully with the police, as would the Government.
Police also searched the MP's office and are understood to be planning to examine computers from the MP's parliamentary office.
The operation which led to the MP being charged with child pornography offences has another 15 active investigations.
Operation Decimate, an initiative of the SA Police Sexual Crime Investigation Branch, has been running since February 2007.
"SCIB detectives have disseminated information to at least 16 jurisdictions around the world where offending has been identified."
If the MP is found guilty, they will have to resign their seat in Parliament because any MP found guilty of a crime carrying a penalty of more than two years has to resign.
Coming on top of the party's worst poll result since the State Bank election of 1993, the party is now being compared with the NSW Labor Party, which was decimated at the recent state election after 16 years in office.
The MP, who was refusing to comment yesterday, was taken to the City Watchhouse on Wednesday night, charged with four child pornography offences and later released on police bail.
The MP will appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on May 20. It is understood Michael Abbott, QC, will represent the MP.
Transport Minister Patrick Conlon said yesterday he thought everyone in the party was shocked.
Federal Finance Minister Penny Wong said the front page of The Advertiser reporting the incident was "pretty extraordinary and shocking".
"But there's a police investigation ongoing and it's not something I want to comment on," Senator Wong said.
The Advertiser poll published on Wednesday morning put Labor's primary vote at 24 per cent, which was less than the primary vote recorded by Labor in the NSW election.



The Advertiser (22-4-2011)
Greg Kelton/ Daniel Wills
http://www.news.com.au/national/mp-sex-charges-shatter-labor/story-e6frfkvr-1226043161422




South Australia Labor MP charged with child porn


PREMIER Mike Rann says he is shocked by reports of an MP being charged with serious criminal offences involving alleged possession of child pornography.
The MP at the centre of the allegations has been identified as a Labor MP but a six-paragraph statement released by Mr Rann makes no mention of the MP's political affiliations.
"For legal reasons, no person, including me as Premier, is at liberty to reveal the identity of the person, the subject of the allegations, or to disclose any information through which others may infer the identity of the person," Mr Rann said.
"It would be against the law for me to comment on the allegations as the matter is now before the courts.
"I believe that any potential witnesses with any evidence or information about these allegations must co-operate fully with police."
Mr Rann said the Government would, of course, co-operate with the police in the investigation.
The MP was taken to the City Watchhouse on Wednesday night, charged with four child pornography offences and later released on police bail.
He will appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court on May 20.
Detectives said their investigation was continuing.
Under SA law he cannot be identified until his committal, unless he gives his consent.
He returned home earlier today but had not spoken to the waiting media outside.
Politicians from both sides say they are shocked by the allegations.
Police said the arrest was the result of the Sexual Crime Investigation Branch's ongoing "Operation Decimate", which targets people who use the internet for child exploitation-related offences.
The maximum penalty for possessing child pornography in South Australia is five years in jail for a first offence. The maximum penalty for an aggravated offence in seven years in jail.
Section 63 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 says that an aggravated offence includes an offender knowing that the victim was aged under 14 at the time, or the offence being committed in the company of one or more other people.
It is believed several laptops were seized from the MP's suburban home.
Turmoil swept state political circles as details of the incident emerged.
There were reports that police visited the MP's office at Parliament House but this was denied by the presiding officers, who have to give permission for police to enter the building.
Legislative Council President Bob Sneath said he had not been approached by police and Speaker Lyn Breuer said she had not been contacted by police.
Ms Breuer said she was "certainly concerned about the issue".
Labor and Liberal MPs were in shock last night and few were prepared to talk about the incident. Many were asking the media for details.
A spokeswoman for Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond said she could not comment.
It is understood the MP's home was raided on Tuesday afternoon and police spent 24 hours analysing the contents of a computer.
Yesterday, they went to the MP's office and seized another computer for analysis. Last night, police returned to the MP's house.
One officer emerged from the house about 7.35pm and went to a police car. He then carried what appeared to be a tape back into the house. At 7.55pm, two detectives wearing gloves searched a car parked in the driveway.
They examined the boot and under the seats before returning to the house. Police left the house at 8.10pm carrying several evidence bags containing compact discs and a mobile phone and the house was shut and left in darkness.

AdelaideNow (21-4-2011)
Greg Kelton/ Amy Noonan/ Ken McGregor.
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/mp-arrested-over-exploitation/story-e6frea6u-1226042407822



Why the MP charged with alleged child pornography offences cannot be named


THE name of the Labor MP charged with child pornography offences will remain a state secret for months thanks to an 35-year-old law.
Media reporting of alleged sex crimes is restricted a section introduced in 1976 to the Evidence Act (1929) - the same legislation used to impose suppression orders.
The media may not publish any evidence tendered, or submission made, in the Magistrates Court relating to an alleged sex offence.
It is further banned from naming any person charged with an offence, and must not identify anyone alleged to be a victim.
The act defines a sex crime as "any offence involving sexual exploitation or abuse of a child, or exploitation of a child as an object of prurient interest".
Individuals who breach the law can be fined a maximum $10,000, while corporations face a $120,000 fine.
The act says alleged offenders can only be named once they have entered a plea - be it guilty or not guilty - to the charges, and have been remanded for either sentence or trial.
The MP is due to appear in court again on May 20, when a magistrate will organise a schedule for the case.
Usually, prosecutors are given between four and six weeks to provide declarations - summaries of the evidence to be used at trial - to defence counsel.
Once those papers are handed over, alleged offenders are usually required to enter a plea to the charges within six weeks.
After the pleas have been entered, the alleged offender can be publicly identified provided the court does not impose any additional suppression orders.


AdelaideNow (21-4-2011)
Sean Fewster
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/why-the-mp-charged-with-alleged-child-pornography-offences-cannot-be-named/story-e6frea83-1226042738877



South Australian Labor MP charged with child pornography offences


A SOUTH Australian Labor MP has been charged with allegedly accessing child pornography.
The man was arrested at his house in Adelaide's northeast suburbs yesterday and later charged at the city watch house with two counts of possessing child pornography and two charges of taking steps to access child pornography.
Detectives said their investigation was continuing.
Under SA law he cannot be identified until his committal, unless he gives his consent.
He returned home earlier today but had not spoken to the waiting media outside.
Politicians from both sides say they are shocked by the allegations.
The MP will appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court on May 20.
Police said the arrest was the result of the Sexual Crime Investigation Branch's ongoing "Operation Decimate", which targets people who use the internet for child exploitation-related offences.
The maximum penalty for possessing child pornography in South Australia is five years in jail for a first offence. The maximum penalty for an aggravated offence in seven years in jail.
Section 63 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 says that an aggravated offence includes an offender knowing that the victim was aged under 14 at the time, or the offence being committed in the company of one or more other people.
It is believed several laptops were seized from the MP's suburban home.
Turmoil swept state political circles as details of the incident emerged.
There were reports that police visited the MP's office at Parliament House but this was denied by the presiding officers, who have to give permission for police to enter the building.
Legislative Council President Bob Sneath said he had not been approached by police and Speaker Lyn Breuer said she had not been contacted by police.
Ms Breuer said she was "certainly concerned about the issue".
Labor and Liberal MPs were in shock last night and few were prepared to talk about the incident. Many were asking the media for details.
A spokeswoman for Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond said she could not comment.
It is understood the MP's home was raided on Tuesday afternoon and police spent 24 hours analysing the contents of a computer.
Yesterday, they went to the MP's office and seized another computer for analysis. Last night, police returned to the MP's house.
One officer emerged from the house about 7.35pm and went to a police car. He then carried what appeared to be a tape back into the house. At 7.55pm, two detectives wearing gloves searched a car parked in the driveway.
They examined the boot and under the seats before returning to the house. Police left the house at 8.10pm carrying several evidence bags containing compact discs and a mobile phone and the house was shut and left in darkness.



AdelaideNow (20-4-2011)
Greg Kelton
http://www.news.com.au/national/mp-arrested-over-exploitation/story-e6frfkvr-1226042484463#ixzz1K8fTVkXG



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