Well, this was probably to be expected.
In the aftermath of problematic at best, horrifically victim-blaming at worst comments from Judge Christopher Ryan in regards to the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl, experts have thoroughly condemned his baffling take on the issue.
ICYMI, Judge Ryan yesterday released 32-year-old man Franco Abad on a two-year good behaviour bond for the sexual assault, which was committed after police had informed the Melbourne man his victim was legitimately underage.
The details of the case are almost unreal: Abad was a security guard at Melbourne’s Children’s Court (!!!) when he started a “relationship” with girl, who first told him she was 17.
The fact the victim initially portrayed herself as over the age of consent seemed to have more impact on Judge Ryan’s sentencing than Abad’s obvious dereliction of duty and his conscious decision to have sex with her (read: abuse her) once he knew she was underage.
At the pre-sentence hearing, Judge Ryan said “he [then] goes to bed and is joined by a young woman… he’s not made of steel,” before typifying the victim as some kind of quasi-manipulative and “worldly” seductress who was “older than her years.”
That almost sympathetic language, combined with the apparent slap-on-the-wrist punishment, has quite rightly drawn the ire of advocates for sexual assault survivors.
Speaking to The Age, Dr Cathy Kezelman of the Blue Knot Foundation said “with respect, it would appear the judge’s comments are ill-informed and perpetuate very dangerous myths which the royal commission [into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse] and others… are working very hard to shift.”
She also said Judge Ryan’s ruling demonstrates “there is still a lack of information with people in a position of power to make decisions about culpability, sentencing and perpetrators,” alluding to the deadset fact the actual bloody adult in the situation was the one ultimately responsible.
Carolyn Worth of Centres Against Sexual Assault corroborated that viewpoint, saying Judge Ryan’s statements “suggest she’s an equal party in this and I think that’s not quite accurate.
If he’s 30 and she’s 14 and already subject to court proceedings, she’s clearly vulnerable.
She may as well be sexualised and vulnerable but it doesn’t make her any less vulnerable.”
In his own column for The Age, lawyer Duncan Fine also responded to the case. His take is no less scathing, as he writes “Judge Ryan’s idea that a 14-year-old girl can be a temptress seems at best disingenuous and at worst designed to absolve an adult man of guilt…
True men of steel protect children… What predators don’t deserve is judges making excuses for their crimes.”
TBH, the whole thing still beggars belief, but the widespread remonstration of Judge Ryan’s comments is proof not everyone will make such glaring allowances to sexual abusers.