Justice system must be blind to gender when it comes to crime and punishment
- Herald Sun
- October 13, 2014
WHAT should the punishment be for a 47-year-old male teacher who asks one of his young female students to have sex with him? He tells the 10-year-old autistic girl he’s in love with her, gets her name tattooed on his chest and bombards her with text messages.
What would you say if I told you the teacher was a woman and the victim a boy? Would that change things?
Of course not. No doubt you agree with me that paedophilia is paedophilia, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a man or a woman.
So why is it that schoolteacher Diane Brimble avoided prison for this very crime, copping a mere 200 hours of community service and a two-year community corrections order although she begged a ten-year-old boy to have sex with her.
I can only think she got away with a lesser sentence because she is a woman, and because she is a mother of eight children.
There has been widespread condemnation of Brimble’s sentence because it seems to be not only totally inadequate, but well out of step with penalties handed out to men who commit similar crimes.
As the mother of a 10-year-old boy, I found the court transcript heartbreaking reading. Apparently, Brimble hugged the boy and asked him if he wanted to sleep with her. He didn’t even know what she meant. He told her he wasn’t old enough to have sex, but Brimble told him: “You are when you are at my house.”
Police accused Brimble of also presenting the boy with a suitcase containing a pregnancy test, condoms, truth-or-dare cards and sex toys, as well as exposing her breasts.
As I see it, Brimble’s crime was totally abhorrent on many levels.
First, she was the child’s schoolteacher, and thus in a position of both power and responsibility. Her actions were not only a betrayal of the little boy and his family, but a gross betrayal of all teachers.
Second, the boy in question has Asperger’s syndrome, so was particularly vulnerable.
Third, Brimble knew the boy’s parents, and clearly breached their trust in her. In fact, she tried to come between the boy and his parents, making him believe she loved him, but they did not.
Fourth, she even involved her own children in her offending. When the boy moved schools, she toured his new school and attempted to move her kids there.
Sadly, this is not the only example of women getting off lightly despite committing horrific sexual crimes that completely destroy the lives of their young victims.
In Victoria, a mother who drugged her 13-year-old daughter and allowed her sex-offender boyfriend to photograph and indecently assault her was originally given a non-parole sentence of just one year. On appeal, the sentence was increased.
In South Australia, a 40-year-old woman received a suspended sentence despite having sex with a 15-year-old boy.
In Queensland, a childcare worker who sent nude graphic photos of her 12-year-old daughter to her lover walked free from court after receiving a suspended sentence.
It is hard to imagine men being treated in the same way. It seems there is a double standard, whereby male paedophiles are regarded as evil, while female paedophiles are viewed as mixed up or overly emotional.
Brimble claimed the offending occurred in the context of an obsessive and misdirected affection. But she did not treat this boy with affection; she ruined his innocence by treating him as a sexual commodity. The impact on him was so severe he had to be treated with anti-psychotic medication and moved out of the community. The fact Brimble was not convicted of sexually abusing the boy in a physical manner shouldn’t matter.
County Court judge Mark Taft said Brimble had good prospects of rehabilitation and was unlikely to reoffend. I simply do not believe the same assurances would be extended to a male perpetrator in the same position.
In the end, cases like this make us less trusting of the adults in our children’s lives. Inspiring, dedicated, wonderful teaches end up being viewed with suspicion, which means kids end up missing out on vital mentoring and friendship.
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"She tried to manipulate [the boy] to think that she loved him and that his parents did not.
This hurts me to the very core," the father said.
Female teacher who sought sex with 10-year-old boy walks free