1 December 2023

Senior government worker allegedly raped child and trafficked her for sex

| Albert McKnight
Law Court

The ACT Magistrates Court has granted a man accused of child trafficking bail. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

CONTENT WARNING: This article refers to alleged child abuse.

A senior public servant has been accused of historical child trafficking and child rape offences, starting when the girl was aged just 14.

The man is accused of organising for the complainant to be transported from Canberra to Sydney on two occasions in 2013 and 2014 for her to be sexually exploited.

She was aged between 14 and 16 at the time.

He is also accused of raping her four times between 2013 and 2016, as well as possessing intimate images of her, which would be considered to be child abuse material.

It is alleged child exploitation material was found on his electronic devices on Wednesday (29 November).

ACT Policing said he was arrested after an online historical report was submitted for investigation in July 2023.

The man was handed 10 charges when he appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (30 November) and then applied for bail, which was opposed by the prosecution.

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The court heard that he is “quite senior” and has influence in his federal government department.

The court also heard that several years after the alleged conduct, a member of his department had “raised a concern” about the “inappropriateness” between him and the complainant.

The prosecutor said she would not oppose bail forever; however, police had still not spoken to several witnesses and there was currently a concern that the man would be able to contact them via a third party to “get word out to tighten the ship”.

She said the complainant had strong concerns for her welfare, saying he had her contact details and had recently been in contact.

Also, she was worried that her intimate images may be used against her and distributed further.

The man’s lawyer, Edward Chen from Legal Aid, said while police may still need to speak to witnesses, an investigation was rarely complete by the time someone was arrested, and in this case, it was “more advanced than most”.

He said if bail were refused, his client would spend a long time in custody, as a trial would be held in 2025 at the earliest. His client had also offered a $10,000 surety.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker said the allegations came from a particular set of circumstances and there was no evidence of a pattern of conduct with anyone other than the complainant.

She said the complainant was more worried about retribution from the man’s ex-partner than him and it would be “stupidity” for him to contact her.

The chief justice ultimately said that as he had no criminal history and was on notice that he would be under close surveillance, she would grant bail on condition that he not contact his alleged victim.

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The man’s charges included two counts of transporting a child with the intent for them to provide sexual services or to be exploited, two counts of sex with a young person under special care and two counts of sex with a young person.

There were also single counts of producing child abuse material, possessing child exploitation material, committing an act of indecency on a young person and committing an act of indecency in the presence of a young person.

While the complainant already legally could not be identified, Chief Magistrate Walker made suppression orders over the man’s name as well as the names of witnesses for the time being.

The matter was adjourned to December for a plea or mention.

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 is also available through The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, The Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline: 13 11 14. In an emergency call 000.

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