There was the time Nick unwittingly unlocked Thomas's phone to find a photograph of another of his teenage granddaughters in a bikini. She's a beautiful young girl, she wanted me to see her new bikini. Maria decides to call her stepbrother Patrick, Thomas's biological son by his first marriage. The two half-siblings were never close growing up, despite there being less than two years between them. These days, living more than kilometres apart, they rarely catch up, but Patrick is one of the few people Maria can ask about what she's thinking.
Far from calming her growing unease, Patrick tells her that he and his two daughters ceased contact with Thomas more than a year ago, after Patrick discovered that Thomas had been plying Patrick's two girls — then aged 12 and 14 — with marijuana and alcohol, and trying to coax them into taking nude photos of themselves. Maria can't understand it. How could Patrick have kept this from her — and why didn't he report it to the police? Her worst fears are realised when Patrick mentions a photo of Amy that his daughters claim to have seen on Thomas's phone. Appalled and frightened, Maria contacts family services, supplying them with everything she can think of.
But she realises with a sinking feeling that she has no real proof of anything, just a gut feeling that something isn't right, and a handful of texts and reports that suggest strange behaviour. Any time she peppers Amy and Sam with questions, they brush her off.
Preventing and Identifying Child Sexual Abuse - Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics
She's eventually contacted by someone from a joint child abuse investigations team, a group of experts drawn from NSW departments including family services, the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions' office. They begin by interviewing Amy, but Maria's year-old daughter is reluctant to talk. She quietly insists that nothing inappropriate ever happened with her grandfather. There's little more that Maria and Nick can do; no sooner does it open, than the case against Thomas seems to close.
Maria and Nick are enjoying a quiet night in front of the TV when Daniel, the boyfriend of their now year-old daughter, enters the living room. Maria can tell by the scared look on his face and the way he speaks that something awful has happened. She hurries past him and into her daughter's room, which — with cream walls, a single bed and a computer atop a corner desk, and a little calendar on which her homework deadlines are marked — could be that of any teenage girl.
Amy is sitting on the edge of her bed. The skin around her eyes is red and swollen; she's clearly been crying for a long time. Maria sits down beside her and takes her hands, imploring her to reveal what's wrong. Two years ago Amy assured an investigations team Thomas never did anything to hurt her. Now she's told her boyfriend a different story. Two years have passed since Amy assured the investigations team that Thomas never did anything to hurt her. But tonight she's told Daniel a different story, opening up for the first time about the years of sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her Opa.
With Daniel's support and urging, she's finally ready to tell her mother. Not only that, but the abuse has continued — via secret texts and meetings initiated by Thomas — in the two years since she and Nick thought they had stopped the children visiting their grandparents. Within minutes Maria is on the phone to the local police; an hour later, she and Amy are at the station, where Amy is taken into a private room and interviewed. A few hours later, Detective Senior Constable Jane Prior, a seasoned Sydney-based detective with more than 12 years' experience investigating sexual assault, receives an early-morning call from her superior.
The next day, and in numerous, subsequent interviews, Amy sits down with Prior to tell her story. At first she's withdrawn, not psychologically ready to express what she lived through. But she slowly opens up, explaining that it all began when she was a toddler, when Thomas began touching her inappropriately and blowing hot air between her legs. She tells Prior of the first time he had "full sex" with her: it was , she was about nine years old, they were in his white Nissan Patrol.
She describes the strong prescription medication he gave her every time he saw her, so that she would not say "no" or feel any pain. Her Opa, she tells Prior, liked to treat her as if they were "dating". The abuse was so constant, over such a long period, that she has difficulty remembering specific days or incidents because he had "always done it".
She hasn't, however, forgotten the room in which a lot of it happened, a children's cubby in the roof of Thomas's house which he custom-built when the kids were little. It was here that Thomas filmed Amy and Sam in various sexual poses and acts. Forensic crime-scene investigator Ian Bennett is the first officer inside the cubby, the day a search warrant for Thomas's house is executed. Up a narrow ladder and through a trapdoor in the garage ceiling that Thomas usually kept locked, he discovers everything Amy described: mattress, lighting, cameras.
Bennett has seen many grisly scenes in his seven years on the job, but nothing like this. He and his team seize a memory card from Thomas's car that contains three pornographic films depicting Amy and Sam. Police investigators are confident there would be many others. The alleged abuse is so immense, so twisted, that Bennett and Prior are not alone in wondering how it could all be true: the drugging, the films, the tunnel to a secret cubby in the attic of a waterfront home.
Six days after Amy tells Prior her story, her by now year-old brother Sam tells his mother that he, too, had been preyed on by his Opa. As Amy and Sam grew older and more likely to question their grandfather, he developed a new set of tricks to manipulate them. As Amy and Sam grew older and more likely to question their grandfather, he developed a new set of tricks to manipulate them, based around a trio of people who didn't exist. Bob, Lyn and Toey, purported friends of Opa, would send Amy and Sam texts, threatening to send the video clips they'd already made to friends and family if they didn't participate in more.
The three characters would frequently argue among themselves, or insult one another. They were such believable and compelling personas that it would be 12 months into the investigation before police were able to convince the siblings that Bob, Lyn and Toey weren't real. The year-old is handcuffed and taken to the local police station, where he's presented with one of the most heinous child sex charge sheets the state has ever recorded.
His victims include not only Amy and Sam but Patrick's two daughters, and the niece of another stepdaughter. The indictment numbers 77 counts, with offences occurring from at least through to It details the grooming, manipulation and blackmail of six alleged child victims in his home, his car, his caravan and a South Coast motel. And it canvasses the spectrum of sexual abuse inflicted on them, the supply of drugs and alcohol, and the false promises of modelling contracts to coerce them into sitting for nude photos.
Prior is sitting in a small conference room at the back of Bankstown police station, where she is based. She's tough but approachable, with an air that suggests she's a good listener. She calls Thomas a master manipulator, grooming the children's families as much as his victims. We were able to corroborate absolutely everything. When she considers the numbers, Prior can hardly believe the scale of the case against Thomas, and the task she had in building it. Six alleged victims, 50 volumes of evidence, more than 80 prosecution witnesses, 10 of them from interstate.
At trial, when not in the witness box she sat behind the prosecution, second-guessing her every move. If you lose your crime-scene warrant, you lose your crime scene. You lose your evidence. Thomas pleaded not guilty to all 77 charges against him. When you've got offences carrying 10 years, 25 years, carrying life The investigation was Prior's final one in almost 13 years with the NSW Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad; after it, she requested a transfer to another unit, and has since been promoted to detective sergeant. Maria now understands just how taboo a topic is intra-familial sexual abuse, despite it being considered the most common type of child sexual abuse in Australia.
Credit: Getty Images. The page judgment takes two days to be read to the court. It is a damning assessment of a man described by consultant forensic psychiatrist Jeremy O'Dea as "relatively physically fit and healthy" but "vague, contradictory and eluding" in his denial of the abuse, with "apparently self-serving explanations displaying limited empathy for the victims".
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In court, O'Dea recounted a prison interview he conducted with Thomas in early , in which Thomas told him that "most of it didn't happen He argued that "all the kids lied in court I can only guess who. Thomas was not suffering from a major psychiatric illness, O'Dea concluded, nor did he report awareness of his own paedophilic urges or fantasies. O'Dea recognised instead "coercive and deceptive" behaviour, his "apparent lack of insight and acknowledgment" a sign of antisocial and psychopathic traits potentially describing a personality disorder.
So few people report sexual harassment in fact, that most Thais assume that it doesn't exist at all. But there are very few cases for sexual harassment. According to Jadet, the lack of reporting or even acknowledgment of sexual harassment is rooted within one main cultural reason: patriarchy.
From family to school to even in the media, our culture sees that having many women is not wrong. It makes a person even more manly. This makes it a problem.
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Men see it as 'What's wrong with just joking around? No matter how much they order and yell at you. You must be able to cope with it. Women are implanted that they have to cater and understand men's every need. The fact that men sexually harass them verbally or touch their arm here or there is a situation where women don't feel like they have to come out and protect themselves. I'm not blaming the women, but it's just the patriarchal mindset that allows this to happen. The majority of the women do not like these things happening to them. It's just the thought process of 'Thai men are like this, so let them just have their way'.
We've been faced with many cases where it started out small to the point of tricking the woman into being raped. We have to let society see that if there is no punishment for sexual harassment, it can later lead to rape, which is the highest violation of human rights. Once in a work setting, this patriarchal mindset added to an authoritative position leads men to feel almost invincible. According to Usa Lerdsrisuntad, programme director for the Foundation for Women, the lack of clear-cut rules, regulations and punishment allows the perpetrator to continue his vile acts with no consequences at all.
In the past it's been extremely unclear -- like just moving the perpetrator to another section. But they have to be clear-cut. Every institution has to have a policy of their own. Every time, it's the woman who has to be moved out or has to quit her job because she's so ashamed and embarrassed. Sometimes the institution doesn't believe the words of the woman, and then she's seen in a negative light. And some people who open up get even more threats from the harasser. It discredits her, and people view the woman as wanting some certain benefits by opening up like that. There needs to be talks and adjustments in the law to have clearer punishments.
- Karma: Reaping What We Sow (The Wisdom of Life: Primordia Childrens Books Book 6).
- The El Agha Conspiracy (Jake Crabtree Adventures Book 4).
- How to Handle Abuse (for Kids) - KidsHealth.
- The Marvelous Journals of Miss Virginia Pettingill.
- NCJRS Abstract.
- Emotional abuse.
- Complexities and Cautions.