26 September 2023

New laws aimed at child sex offenders

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Child sex offenders are to face longer jail terms in a proposed major sentencing overhaul designed to increase maximum penalties and reduce leniency.

Announced by Attorney-General, Kyam Maher, the Statutes Amendment (Child Sex Offences) Bill 2022, tabled on 5 May, is to introduce tough new laws, with more severe punishments for a host of crimes targeting South Australia’s most vulnerable.

Mr Maher said the proposed laws included significantly increasing the maximum penalty for gross indecency with or in the presence of a child from five years to 15 years in prison, while those caught in possession of a child sex doll would face more than a decade behind bars.

He said the Government would also crack down on predators who downloaded, shared or created abhorrent child abuse material.

“Age categories for vile image-based offending will be scrapped, meaning offenders – who can face a lesser penalty when the age of their victim is unknown – will no longer be shown unjustifiable leniency,” Mr Maher said.

He said a standard maximum penalty would apply regardless of the child’s age, and their apparent age could be into taken account by the judge in sentencing.

The Attorney-General said the package would also help police hunt online predators by strengthening Carly’s Law which clamped down on offenders who used the internet to lie about their age and attempted to meet with children.

“The change will make it clear any communication is covered by this offence when the perpetrator believes they are talking to a child online – even if it is an uncover police officer – and gives authorities greater confidence to intercept predators before they can cause harm,” he said.

These predators inflict lifelong and devastating consequences on their victims and the penalties imposed must reflect that,” Mr Maher said.

The seven-page Statutes Amendment Bill can be downloaded at this PS News link.

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