Teacher sentenced to 15 months' jail after confessing to molesting step-daughter
A TEACHER who molested his step-daughter in Far North Queensland worked at a remote interstate school for nearly two years after confessing his crimes while police shuffled paperwork across borders.The man, aged in his 50s, was sentenced to 15 months' jail in the Cairns District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to five charges of indecent treatment of a child under 16 stemming from his time living with his family in a small town outside Cairns in the 1990s.
It was revealed the man was teaching in Victoria when his wife reported him to police in that state in late 2009, and he then relocated to take up a "senior position" at a remote indigenous school in another part of the country where he was not bothered by authorities until his arrest at an airport in December, 2011.
The sentence comes as Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called for a royal commission into the abuse of children, which Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston believes should be broadened to prevent similar cases in which offenders fly under the radar interstate.
"A federal royal commission has to look at all of these issues and we have to get it right ... we have to have a nationally consistent approach to dealing with this issue," Ms Johnston told The Cairns Post.
Judge Brian Harrison said he could not understand the two-year delay in charging the man as his movements seemed "very obvious".
The primary-school teacher's wife made the complaint to Victorian police in late 2009 after she confronted him and he confessed.
But it was not until late April last year that the Victorian file was forwarded to police in Far North Queensland and a warrant issued for the man's arrest.
He would teach for another seven months interstate before Australian Federal Police intercepted him at an airport, and he was extradited back to Queensland and resigned from his job. Since then he has lived in Cairns.
His former teaching colleagues provided glowing references to the court despite the charges.
He will only serve three months of his sentence as he was charged under older, more lenient legislation due to the date of the offences.
"You will never, ever return to work after that," Judge Harrison told him.
Victoria Police offered no comment on the case and Queensland Police did not respond by this newspaper's edition time.
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