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Outrage On Porn Verdict

Judge Barnett in February urged a confessed rapist to reconsider his guilty plea, saying he did not believe penetration had occurred.
Last year he let a pedophile who abused a seven-year-old girl off without a jail term.
And in 2000, he decided a suspended jail term was enough for a Catholic priest who molested 20 children, saying the priest was no longer a threat.

A judge has sparked outrage by overturning a child pornography conviction because he could not be sure the explicit images depicted children.
Prosecutors are considering appealing against Judge John Barnett's decision in the County Court this week.
The judge overturned a conviction against Catholic school teacher Terrence James Wescott, 56, charged with possessing child porn.
It is the fifth controversial decision handed down by Judge Barnett in a sex-related case.
In the County Court, sitting in Geelong on Thursday, Judge Barnett reasoned there was no clear evidence that images Mr Wescott had accessed depicted minors.
"I can't say that they are apparently under the age of 16 or over the age of 16. My experience is that I can't pick the age of children," Judge Barnett was reported to have said.
He was also unconvinced that the presence of the images on Mr Wescott's computer at the school constituted possession.
And he went further, saying current child pornography legislation is draconian.
Mr Wescott was the principal of Torquay's St Therese Catholic Primary School when he was arrested and charged in the nationwide crackdown on child porn, Operation Auxin.
In April, a magistrate sentenced Mr Wescott to six months' jail with a minimum of two months for possessing explicit images of girls.
Mr Wescott pleaded not guilty, saying he paid to access the images out of stupidity and inquisitiveness.
During that hearing, in the Geelong Magistrate's Court on April 28, police told the court the girls appeared to be aged between nine and 14.
Australian Childhood Foundation chief Joe Tucci encouraged the Office of Public Prosecutions to appeal the County Court ruling.
"If he can't pick the age of children, he should not be involved with cases involving children," Dr Tucci said.
"To me it's appalling that decision was reversed."
Judge Barnett in February urged a confessed rapist to reconsider his guilty plea, saying he did not believe penetration had occurred.
Last year he let a pedophile who abused a seven-year-old girl off without a jail term.
And in 2000, he decided a suspended jail term was enough for a Catholic priest who molested 20 children, saying the priest was no longer a threat.

AAP (29-5-2005)
Carly Crawford


MAKO/Files Online.. Listing Australian Convicted Paedophiles/ Sex Offenders/ Child Killers.. FREE Public Service..



Judge Rape Outrage

A judge who suggested a sex attacker consider changing his rape plea to not guilty has been condemned for making "appalling" and "flippant" comments.
Judge John Barnett, 61, was slammed by women and victims of crime groups after comparing touching a woman's genitalia to US President George Bush putting his hand over his heart.
The judge, who has been criticised in the past for letting confessed sex offenders walk free, was also accused of questioning the law on rape.
The incident was sparked after Judge Barnett queried a guilty plea by accused rapist Min Wu earlier this month.
Wu, 37, of Bentleigh, arrived at the County Court to plead guilty to rape after he was accused of touching a woman's genitalia during an October 2003 attack.
But the judge said he had read the evidence and did not believe penetration had occurred.
"For the life of me, I can't understand why he's been charged with rape," Judge Barnett said.
"If I saw George Bush walking down the street the other day with his hand over his heart . . . you couldn't say he was touching his heart."
The judge said he believed the law should be instinctive.
". . . whether it's in a book or not, you know what the crime is," he said. "Rape has been amended to all sorts of things but once it was only the penetration of the vagina by the penis. These days you've got fingers and other sorts of things that constitute rape."
Centre Against Sexual Assault program manager Marg D'Arcy labelled the comments "appalling" and said they gave no thought to the victim's trauma. "He is implying that he doesn't agree with the changes to the law," she said.
"It makes me fairly despairing that somebody in a position like a judge would be so dismissive of the women's experience. That treats her (the victim) with such disrespect it is beyond belief."
Victorian Women's Trust executive director Mary Crooks said the law was "unambiguous and unequivocal".
The law defines sexual penetration as "the introduction (to any extent) by a person of an object or part of his or her body . . . into the vagina" and specifies the vagina to include external genitalia.
"It is there in black and white and you don't have to be a judge to read that," Ms Crooks said.
Victorian Victims of Crime Association spokesman Noel McNamara accused Judge Barnett of acting more like a defence lawyer while on the bench.
It is not the first time Judge Barnett has been caught up in controversy over sex cases, with three previous decisions not to jail sex offenders.
Last year, his decision not to jail a pedophile who molested a seven-year-old girl was one of the catalysts for a mass rally, which saw 6000 protesters angry at lenient sentences for sex offenders march on Parliament House.
In 2000, Judge Barnett let another pedophile, a former Catholic priest who had indecently assaulted four boys more than 20 years earlier, walk free with a suspended sentence, after deciding he was no longer a threat to society.
And in 1994 he failed to jail an Aboriginal man who pleaded guilty to raping a pensioner, on the grounds of his low intellect, alcohol problem and cultural background.
In the most recent case, the judge said there was no evidence of penetration and suggested it was a case of indecent assault.
When told Wu did not wish to fight a trial, Judge Barnett said: "He's sticking his head in the jaws of a crocodile, well and truly."
The case was adjourned to allow Wu to consider if he still wanted to plead guilty.
When the matter returned to court, the prosecution produced a new and more detailed statement from the victim, and the accused maintained his plea.
Wu will appear before the judge this week at a further hearing.

Herald Sun (20-5-2005)
Kelvin Healey
 
 

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