Child Porn Shockwaves Widen

New Zealand Herald [New Zealand]
October 8, 2004

Ever since the internet emerged it has been accepted that pornography was one of its defining features.

But in the last two weeks Australians have been shocked and respected institutions shaken as a nationwide police crackdown uncovered huge numbers of men surfing the net for child pornography.

Teachers, health workers, police and the owner of a childcare centre are among those under investigation.

The Catholic education system is reeling after a teacher and a principal from two different Victorian schools were targeted by police this week for allegedly downloading child pornography.

Parishioners at St Philip's Anglican Church in Mount Waverley were left stunned on Sunday when a letter was read out during the service explaining that their vicar the Rev John Crump, 58, had admitted to possessing child pornography.

A male neonatal nurse from the Royal Women's Hospital has been charged and a lab technician from the Royal Children's Hospital is under investigation.

And the owner of three Melbourne childcare centres is selling up after it became public that he was under investigation for allegedly accessing child pornography.

Since the launch of Operation Auxin, police in Victoria have interviewed 89 people, executed 96 search warrants and seized 177 computers for forensic examination.

Across the country more than 200 men are now being investigated and Justice Minister Chris Ellison has said the number could swell to 700.

The head of Victoria's sexual crimes squad, Detective Inspector Tony Cecchin, said police had been shocked by the sheer scale of the crimes and the graphic nature of the images, many of which showed children being abused.

Cecchin said the raids had sent a warning to those who thought looking at child pornography on the internet was a victimless crime.

"Each image represents a victim," he said. "Those who are accessing it are encouraging and consenting to abuse."

Catholic Education Office director Susan Pascoe said parents had been "shocked, distressed and angry" when confronted with the news that school staff were under investigation.

Pascoe said the scandal had undermined the reputation of Catholic education and was deeply distressing and embarrassing.

The shame has taken its toll on those under investigation, with six men opting to take their lives rather than face the music.

Cecchin said police were trying to be humane and prevent more deaths.

So far Victorian parents have been spared the horror of finding their children were harmed or filmed by paedophiles.

But other states raids have uncovered studios and police believe these were used to create pornography with local children.

A 33-year-old male teacher and youth pastor from western Sydney has confessed to using a hidden camera to secretly film children as they changed clothes.


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