Last week’s abhorrent disclosure by a Queensland father that the stress of quitting smoking led him to molest his own daughter generated little sympathy for the accused.
The man, who admitted to digitally penetrating his 12-year-old daughter, was sentenced in Brisbane’s District Court to two and a half years' jail.
He confessed to police that he "wasn’t thinking straight" because he was struggling to give up cigarettes.
His excuse is just one of any number of ill-conceived, misguided and pathetic concoctions pedophiles have brought before the courts over the years in an attempt to lessen their responsibility for their crimes.
As a former court reporter I’ve heard some interesting defences from criminals.
I have also witnessed cases where those charged with relatively minor offences have still adamantly denied their guilt, preferring to pay thousands of dollars on legal professionals and conjure a fanciful story because they can’t bear the thought of losing.
Shame is such a powerful deterrent to confession.
When the entire world is innocent, what misery the death of honesty will bring.
With family members who work in the (in) justice system, the dinner conversation can sometimes be, well, disheartening to say the least. Behind the scenes of a legal case is where the truth lies. Not in a court room, sadly.
However, what astounds me more than the exasperating explanations of the accused is the blind loyalty of those friends or family who continue to support a guilty party.
A friend recently revealed his in-laws had kept an awful secret of pedophilia – protecting the perpetrator for fear of the shame it would bring to their family.
A father who had molested his daughter acknowledged his crime (only because he was caught) and ensured his partial confession came with lashings of excuses.
“I was under a lot of financial pressure. I was home alone with the children. My wife worked night shift.”
More alarming than his need to minimise his actions, was the response from the rest of the family which was so fearful of what the ‘neighbours’ would think, it acted as though nothing had ever happened.
As a God-loving, church-going family they chose to ‘forgive’.
They continued to allow this man access to their children.
“But he said ‘sorry’. And he promised never to do it again.”
Blind loyalty is such a dangerous sentiment.
It may seem easier to ignore the difficulties of the present, to avoid the awkward conversation, to get on with a life unhindered by an inconvenient truth, but the future holds much tragedy for those who fail to stand up for an injustice.