A man has been charged with child sexual abuse after he allegedly arranged to have his 12 year old daughter married to a 26 year old man from Lebanon.
The 63 year old, who cannot be named, appeared in the Downing Centre District Court today on charges of procuring a child under 14 for unlawful sexual activities, and being an accessory before the fact to sexual intercourse with a person under 14.
The 26 year old man, now 27, received a 7 and a half year sentence for playing the part of “husband”. He was convicted of persistent sexual abuse of a child. He had sex with the child numerous times between January and February 2014.
The father is alleged to have decided to “marry off” his daughter after she began menstruating and “becoming interested in boys”, as he was concerned that she might soon commence extramarital sexual relations. The man is alleged to have arranged a wedding ceremony in his home in the Hunter region, and a week later provided a mattress for the pair to consummate the putative marriage.
The issue of child marriages has been canvassed recently by several groups. There are anecdotal reports of underaged girls being taken to another country to marry adult males. The Commonwealth Parliament recently enacted an offence of forced marriage (s 270.7B-270.8 Criminal Code Act 1995), which is punishable by 4 years’ jail, or 7 years’ jail where the victim is a minor.
Unlawfully procuring a child under the age of 14 for unlawful sexual activity, a charge under s 66EB(2)(a) of the Crimes Act 1900, is made out where a person procures a child for another person to engage in unlawful sexual activity with that child. While the fact of unlawful sexual activity or that the procurement was for sexual activity needs to be established, the type of sexual activity does not need to be set out. Sexual intercourse and indecent assault of a 14 year old constitute relevant unlawful sexual activity.
Accessorial liability can be established in regard to most criminal offences, where a person can be, in the case of an accessory before the fact, shown to have aided or abetted the principal prior to the commission of a crime. The Judicial Commission of NSW provides the following in its Criminal Trial Courts Bench Book:
“A person is guilty of being an accessory before the fact where at some time before the crime is actually carried out, he or she intentionally encourages or assists the principal offender to commit that crime. Therefore, there must be some act committed by the accessory that was intended to bring about the crime later committed by the principal offender. The act of an accessory can consist of conduct of encouraging, including advising, urging or persuading the principal offender to commit the crime, or it can be assisting in the preparations for the commission of the crime. It can be both encouraging and assisting the principal offender.”
It is anticipated that the prosecution would rely on the preparations of providing a bed to establish accessorial liability in this case. Arranging the marriage ceremony would also go to the knowledge which could be ascribed to the father when he went about the acts of preparing the bed.
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