Court of Appeal urges judges give harsher incest sentences

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The highest court in Victoria has urged judges to impose harsher punishment for incest cases but also did not overturn a debated incest sentence for a man proven guilty of incest against his two step-daughters.

The Court of Appeal wrote in a judgment that judges were doling out “disproportionately low” sentences for incest, according to The Age.

In the controversial case brought to the appellate, the man was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison, even though he impregnated the 13-year-old step-daughter he abused. Incest has a maximum penalty of 25 years.

The young teen was later forced to terminate the pregnancy, saying instead that she was having sex with a boy from her school because she feared the consequences of telling the truth. She then had to endure continuous abuse by the man.

Pleading guilty to incest and indecent assault, the man was given three-and-a-half years in prison for committing incest against his 13-year-old step-daughter.

Her sister, according to The Age, had a mild mental disability and was 15 or 16 when she was abused. The man got two years in prison for his crimes against the older teen.

The court said that if the sentence weren’t consistent with current practice, “we would have had no hesitation in concluding that the sentence imposed...was manifestly inadequate.”

This is why the court believes it falls on judges to collectively be handing out harsher sentences to those convicted of incest.

“Sentencing for incest must reflect society's denunciation of the sexual abuse of children and the profound harm which it causes,” the court wrote. "The very high maximum penalty underlines the seriousness with which the offence is regarded."