5 April 2024

Grandmother uploaded child abuse material of her granddaughter onto TikTok

| Albert McKnight
TikTok app

A grandmother is awaiting sentencing after she filmed a child abuse material video and uploaded it to TikTok. Photo: James Coleman.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to child abuse.

A grandmother filmed a video containing child abuse material of her own granddaughter before uploading it to the social media application TikTok, then privately shared it with the girl’s mother.

But it was an incident that began out of “a cultural misunderstanding” before it developed into “a criminal act”, her lawyer, Georgia Le Couteur from Legal Aid, told the ACT Supreme Court on Friday (5 April).

The woman was a foreign national who came to Australia later in life and had been at home with her toddler granddaughter in early 2023 when the incident took place.

She used her mobile phone to record a 20-second video of her naked granddaughter, in which she touched the girl’s body and exposed her genital area, even moving the camera closer so she was “effectively zooming in” on her genitals, court documents say.

She then saved the video to TikTok and shared a link to it with the girl’s mother over Facebook Messenger.

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The mother called her immediately, telling her the video was bad and she needed to delete it. The grandmother then ‘unsent’ the video from Facebook Messenger, which means removing a message.

However, shortly afterwards, TikTok identified that the video was child abuse material so reported it to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and banned the grandmother’s account from its platform.

Police went on to raid the grandmother’s home and seize her phone. She spent two nights in custody before she was granted bail.

The grandmother pleaded guilty to committing an act of indecency on a person under 10 and using a carriage service to publish child abuse material.

At her sentencing hearing on Friday, prosecutor David Swan said the video had not been generally available to the public on TikTok as it was privately published, and a link was then shared with the victim’s mother.

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While the court heard the child had been given a “cultural massage” just before the video was filmed, which is why she was naked, Mr Swan said what then occurred in the video did not appear to be “in any way related to a massage”.

He said there was no evidence to suggest the crime was committed for sexual gratification but argued it was offensive to contemporary standards.

Ms Le Couteur said her client thought that when she ‘unsent’ the message she had removed the video from the internet.

She also said the two days her client spent in custody were “quite a shock” to her.

Justice Belinda Baker has reserved her decision and will sentence the grandmother, who remains on bail, in the future.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on 02 6247 2525, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call Triple Zero.

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