A judge who referred to a 14-year-old sexual assault victim as “nubile” and “worldly” has been reprimanded.
The comments stemmed from the case against a former Children’s Court security guard who was found guilty by a jury of one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16, back in 2015. He was handed a two-year good behaviour bond, which was appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Franco Abad, who was employed by Wilson Security, began a sexual relationship with the teen but said he believed she was 17 at the time.
During the proceedings, County Court judge Christopher Ryan described Mr Abad’s actions as “readily understandable”, saying that the girl appeared much older than she was.
“So at the point in time he’s resolved he’s not going to have any more to do with her,” he said.
“And then he goes to bed and at an indefinite time thereafter he’s joined in bed by a nubile young woman.”
In its findings, the Court of Appeal found that the sentence “did not properly reflect the gravity of the offending”. But the Court of Appeal could not increase the sentence because the prosecutor had submitted that the offending was at the “very low, if not lowest end of the scale”, because of how the relationship started and continued.
In her ruling, Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren AC said that irrelevant matters contributed to the sentence.
“The judge inappropriately and mistakenly took account of irrelevant matters, namely the attitude, demeanour, conduct and nubility of the victim, and the effect she had on the respondent,” she said.
“I would observe that the observations made by the judge about the complainant and the descriptions applied were inappropriate, irrelevant and should not have been made.”