201 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2000
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Melbourne VIC 3000
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Brisbane QLD 4000
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Canberra ACT 2601
District Court Judge John North has taken a lenient approach to sentencing former dancer and teacher’s aid for a child pornography offence.
The allegation (to which Mr Montoya has pled guilty) was that he had surreptitiously taken photographs of the underwear of children. He did so whilst working as a children’s support officer at an inner west school. Mr Montoya was charged both accessing and possessing child abuse material.
Those charges are serious offenses that carry significant terms of imprisonment. Persons can be imprisoned for up to 10 years merely for possessing child pornography, and dozens of people are imprisoned every year for these offences.
In these circumstances, the offence is significantly aggravated by the breach of trust that Mr Montoya committed. As a children’s support officer, he was trusted to care for the children and protect them – his conduct was very serious, and the court was obviously mindful of the need to deter other persons from offending in the same way.
The court takes a particular stern view of people who abuse trust in this way. This includes parents, priests and those entrusted with the care and education of children.
Many people argue that the offence of possessing child pornography is a “victimless crime”, but of course this is not the case. Such offences can have profound and lasting offences upon victims. The cliché is that “the internet is written in ink” and persons who possess or share child pornography often do not realise the consequences of their actions.
Moreover, this conduct often creates or encourages a market for child pornography. Even offences where the perpetrator was not directly involved in the abuse of actual children are taken extremely seriously by the courts, in particular because they can easily lead to the abuse of other children. Research shows that persons who seek out child pornography often then go on the physically abuse children, and it is impossible to predict how widely a photograph or video might spread and what the consequences might be.
In the case of Mr Montoya, Judge North ordered that he be released in January 2019.
Image Credit – Sergii Gnatiuk © 123RF.com
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