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Tassie a 'paedophile paradise'

Tasmania is becoming a paradise for paedophiles and needs to toughen its stance on sex crime fast, victim support advocates warn.
Beyond Abuse founder Steve Fisher says the state is a place where predators either get away with sexual abuse or at worst face ludicrously short jail terms and the word is spreading.
"There's no doubt paedophiles interstate and even overseas are becoming increasingly attracted to Tasmania due to our outdated approach to dealing with sexual offending," Mr Fisher said.
"Tasmania is at risk of being known as a paedophile's paradise."
Beyond Abuse has joined forces with Survivors Australia to seek reform in the sentencing of sex offenders in light of former MP Terry Martin's wholly suspended jail term handed down last week.
Martin had been convicted of producing child exploitation material and having underage sex with a 12-year-old girl who was being prostituted in late 2009.
But Mr Fisher says Martin is not the only public figure guilty of sex crimes.
He says there are other high-profile Tasmanians who are sexually abusing children but their power and associates mean they are considered "untouchable" in this state.
"I wish I could say who was involved, but I can't," Mr Fisher said.
"I will say the community would be shocked."
Survivors Australia Tasmanian coordinator Melissa Johns said the Martin case had led to an outpouring of letters, visits, phone calls and emails to the organisation's offices across the country with many expressing disbelief at Martin's sentence.
"These judges have the ability to jail someone for 14 years for sexual assault crimes but over the past 10 years the average sentence handed down in Tasmania has been just 48 months," she said.
Sexual Assault Support Service chief executive Liz Little chaired the state's last review of the response to adult sexual assault victims in 1995.
"In the past 10 years, every other state and territory except Tasmania and the Northern Territory has conducted a review of ways to better respond to these victims and implement more effective legal mechanisms," Ms Little said.
"We are way behind and it's an embarrassment to this state."
She said conviction rates were dropping and victims were clear that the legal process was not working.
"The courts are handling these cases in the same way they always have, and no one's looking at the bigger picture, such as who are the offenders . . A review is long overdue."
Attorney-General Brian Wightman has said he would ask the Sentencing Advisory Council to look at sentencing provisions for sexual offences at a meeting this month.

www.themercury.com.au (5-12-2011)
Zara Dawtrey

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