A father and seven other men, including a church pastor, have been charged with 503 child sex offences involving a 13-year-old girl in Perth, Western Australia. Police allege the girl’s father facilitated and participated in the horrific abuse, including aggravated sexual penetration and sexual servitude, over a period of two years from when she was just 11 years old.
The Perth Police Child Abuse Squad received a tip off from the public in April this year and in under four months they have been able to rescue the girl, investigate the allegations, and arrest and charge eight suspects aged between 35 and 47.
Detective Superintendent Glenn Feeney of the Sex Crime Division said police acted rapidly, ensuring child’s safety was their priority. He said: “The child was still in a situation where this could, had we not known, had we not been advised, could have continued.”
Further suspects may yet surface, but the speed of the operation can be viewed in marked contrast to child sex exploitation inquiries in the United Kingdom.
Police forces in the West Midlands, Thames Valley and South Yorkshire, as well as child protection services in those areas, have come under intense and ongoing criticism for failures to prosecute child sexual exploitation cases. Instead of investigating allegations and arresting suspects within four months of a initial tip off, certain British police forces and local government officers stand accused of allowing hundreds of men in Pakistani rape gangs to operate for years on end for fear of themselves being accused of racism.
In addition, accusations of organised child abuse among establishment figures in the United Kingdom appear to have been covered up for decades. Even with many of the named suspects already dead or infirm, the official inquiry into the matter is expected to run for a minimum of five years before reporting.
In the Australia case, Perth Police say the girl’s father arranged for men to meet his daughter at various locations where the offences were committed. ABC reports the victim’s father is charged with 228 offences in total, including 146 counts of aggravated indecent recording of a child aged under 13, 16 counts of sexual penetration of a child and six counts of sexual servitude. He cannot be named in order to protect the child’s identity.
Computer storage devices containing evidence were seized, including one with 200,000 videos and 4 million images from one man alone, 149 of which were of the girl in question.
Another of the eight charged, married father of two Dawid Volmer, appeared in court earlier this month and pleaded guilty to 12 offences, including indecent dealing and sexual penetration of a child.
News.com.au reports 41-year-old Volmer is originally from South Africa. He set up a branch of the South African Acts Christian Church in a Perth suburb, later becoming state executive director of the Prison Fellowship Program – a religious outreach scheme for inmates. He resigned from that position in late June when the organisation was made aware of the charges against him.
Ryan Trevor Clegg, 42, has been charged with 61 offences including indecent dealing with a child and sexual penetration of a child. Nicholas Adam Beer, 35, faces 163 charges including three of aggravated sexual penetration and 148 of aggravated indecent recording of a child. Alfred John Impicciatore, 45, faces four counts of sexual penetration of a child. Mark Wesley Liggins, 47, faces 10 charges including intent to procure a child for sexual activity. Troy Phillip Milbourne, 41, is charged with 10 offences including three of sexually penetrating a child. Benjamin Simon Clarke, 47, faces 13 charges of indecent recording of a child and two of indecent dealing with a child.
Detective Superintendent Feeney spoke of the girl’s condition:
“Physically when the police first intervened, she was physically OK. Psychologically I can’t answer but she will receive and will need a lot of help from that side of things for a long time, I’d say.”