Judge not to hear sex cases after incest comments

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District Court judge Garry Neilson has been disallowed from presiding over cases involving sexual offences after he suggested there is nothing unnatural about a man having sex with a boy or his own sister.

Judge Neilson was stood down from hearing criminal matters last year after he made the comments during a case of a man charged with raping his younger sister in 1981 and was then referred to the NSW Judicial Commission, the Sydney Morning Herald reported this morning.

The commission did not refer him to State Parliament for dismissal, finding that Neilson didn’t actually believe them to be true, but found the judge’s actions to be inappropriate judicial conduct following last month’s public hearing.

“The comments express views that are likely to lead members of the public to think that a judge of the District Court hearing a case involving allegations of criminal sexual misconduct doesn't regard the alleged offences as significant crimes,” the panel said in its findings.

“They diminish the significance of the victims of the relevant criminal conduct.”

The judge’s comments included an opinion that a modern jury might not find anything untoward about the advance of a brother towards his sexually matured sister and that whilst socially unacceptable in the 1950s and 1960s, sex between men was now accepted.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Neilson said at the hearing that allegations of incest and paedophilia were no longer inconceivable or unusual.

“I will be making another approach to the Royal Commission in light of these findings asking it to expand its terms of reference to include judicial institutions,” said Federal Senator Bill Heffernan who referred Neilson to the commission.  He said the case demonstrated a need for the judiciary to be included in the child sexual abuse investigation.
 
  • Louise Steer on 25/09/2015 2:34:22 PM

    Perhaps the Attorney General should review the procedure for selecting judges. This unfortunate incident, combined with the Solicitor General's comments about the sheltered lives of judges, indicates something is wrong with the selection process. So does the fact that judges are overwhelmingly white men from privileged backgrounds and simply are not representative of society or even the modern legal profession.

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