A Victorian judge has been slammed by a chief justice for arguing it was “understandable” for a 31-year-old man to have sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl.
Franco Abad, a security guard at a children’s court, had sex with the girl for some weeks allegedly believing she was 17 and over the age of consent. He was charged last year after police told him the girl was actually 14 and living in a Department of Human Services residential care unit.
Abad confronted the girl about her age but she allegedly said her mother lied to the police and insisted she was 17. Abad told her their relationship, but later that night had sex with her again.
He was found guilty by a jury last May of one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and faced up to 10 years in prison for sex with a minor.
However, Judge Christopher Ryan sentenced the man to two years of good behavior bond stating in the man’s defense that the girl was “nubile” and “worldly” and that Franco was “not made of steel.”
“So ... he's resolved he's not going to have any more to do with her. And then he goes to bed and at an indefinite time thereafter he's joined in bed by a nubile young woman,” Judge Ryan said. “The human aspect of it is readily understandable. Well, he's not made of steel.”
He then said he believed Abad had “learnt his lesson” and did not deserve jail.
“There’s nothing unnatural about sex ... the issue here of course is the complainant is not in a position at law to consent,” he added. “I'm absolutely satisfied that this man has learnt his lesson ... the circumstances of this offence and the circumstances of the offender do not call for any form of custodial disposition in my opinion,” he said.
The Director of Public Prosecutions had appealed for a harsher sentence, at least a community corrections order, however, the prosecutor did not challenge the judge’s decision and it was dismissed.
“The gravity of the offending warranted at least some consideration of a custodial disposition,” the court said on Tuesday. “Unfortunately the prosecutor did not press any submission against the judge's early rejection of both a custodial disposition and a community correction order.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Warren also criticized Ryan stating his comments were “inappropriate” and the punishment was “manifestly inadequate” driven by “irrelevant matters.”
"The judge inappropriately and mistakenly took account of irrelevant matters, namely the attitude, demeanor, conduct and nubility of the victim and the effect she had on the respondent,” stated Warren. “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.”
Judge Christopher Ryan should be sacked. This is another example of the sad state of affairs in our courts. Victim blaming is just not on. https://t.co/jbRYCmCQTh— Red Shane (@RedShane1) November 23, 2016
What just happened here?? Seems paedophilia is ok in the eyes of Judge Christopher Ryan https://t.co/eIKbmg1IDc— nchristiana (@nchristiana) August 20, 2016
Ryan isn’t the first judge to be slammed for inappropriate remarks in court.
Magistrate William Pierce drew shocked gasps when he sympathized with Tinder troll Zane Alchin after he posted comments on social media, including one that said, “the best thing about feminists is they don't get action, so when you rape them it's 100 times tighter.”
Pierce said Alchin was punished enough by the “vast overreaction” in the form of abusive posts from social media users, which caused him “a great deal of pain which you didn't deserve.”