Child Sex Convict Secures Visitation Rights, Order Draws Flak

by Gopalan on  March 16, 2010 at 11:18 AM Lifestyle News
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 Child Sex Convict Secures Visitation Rights, Order Draws Flak
An Australian family court's directive to two girls visit their father has drawn widespread flak as the man had been convicted of in 2007 of three child pornography offences including filming images on his computer. He will remain on the sexual offenders register for at least another year.

However, a family court judge in Hobart, capital of Tasmania, has ruled that the girls, aged eight and 10, must visit their father every second weekend provided another adult is present in the home overnight.

Also, as per the ruling, there needs to be a lock on the girls' bedroom door as the "father acts impulsively from time to time and that the children need some protection from him, especially at night".

The court had heard the man posed little danger to his daughters when they were awake and alert, but that the girls were more vulnerable after dark.

"At night, when they were asleep or partly asleep and not aware of each other's whereabouts, they would be less secure," a family counsellor said.

The court heard the man had once invited his eldest daughter into his bed and demonstrated "inappropriate" affection.

The girl has told a counsellor she is afraid to be around her father. Interestingly, the judge himself said he was "far from convinced" the man was not a threat to his daughters.

But why endanger the girls then? Well, it is in the best interests of the girls, that they spend time with their father, the judge maintained.

Former magistrate Barbara Holborow is upset by the decision and says one of the girls said she did not want to visit her father.

"That view should be respected, no matter what the age of the child," Ms Holborow told ABC News. "And unless you're doing that, you cannot say it is in the best interests of the child.

"She doesn't want to be there. That's in her best interests. Don't let her go. If she doesn't go, unless another adult is accompanying the other child, she shouldn't go either."

Ms Holborow says it is not enough for the judge to place conditions on the visit and think nothing untoward will happen.

"My goodness it's not as simple as that," she said.

"As for the children staying over there? No. School holidays? No. Visits? Yes - a trip to the zoo or to some other entertainment, but never sleeping over at this stage of their lives."

Ms Holborow says she hopes the decision does not set a precedent and that legislation is not necessary to stop similar decisions in future.

John Abbott from the fathers' rights group Blackshirts says the court has taken all precautions to protect the children.

"What we have here is a situation where there's no real allegation that the court has found against the father molesting his own children," he said.

"And we have to keep in mind that alienating children from parents is a very serious matter."

Source: Medindia

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