Sunday 02 October 2022

People convicted of sexually assaulting children often escape jail

A prison corridor

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Almost half of adults found guilty of sex crimes against children are given suspended sentences or community service but it is often unclear why, according to a new report by the government’s anti-sexual violence investigator Corinne Dettmeijer.

The maximum sentence of between six and 12 years in jail is handed out very rarely, Dettmeijer says in a new report. She wants judges to explain in more detail about why they take sentencing decisions.

The report is based on 182 cases in which an adult was charged with having sexual contact with a child and which took place in 2012 and 2013.

‘Sometimes a perpetrator is sent for therapy even if they are not motivated, but not always. Sometimes elderly perpetrators are given reduced sentences because of their age, but not always,’ the report says. ‘This makes the consequences of sexual abuse unclear to both victims and abusers.’

Influences

Dettmeijer says there are four factors which appear to influence the verdicts from a statistical perspective: the public prosecutor’s call for a long sentence, if a victim is younger than 12, if the victim is a boy and if the assault included penetration.

‘The public prosecutor tends to ask for higher sentences when girls have been abused,’ Dettmeijer told broadcaster NOS. ‘They are possibly seen as more vulnerable. But judges appear to neutralise this by imposing higher sentences if one or more boys are the victims.’

Judges do not appear to take the number of victims or the length of time abuse went on for into account, she said. Nor does having a criminal record or being related to the victim have an impact.

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