Nine News published an AAP report on a rapist’s appeal against his sentence under a headline that not only erases the 14 women and girls this man raped and terrorised, it also completely misrepresents the actual case.

The rapist claimed his initial sentence was “crushing”. In response, the court said “this analysis is flawed and of little assistance”. One of the judges pointed out that “An offender sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment may well consider the sentence to be ‘crushing’ but in many cases a long sentence may be the proportionate response to the circumstances of that case.”

AAP chose a discredited quote to sensationalise a headline and then they erased all the women and girls this man chose to rape. He didn’t rape social media. He didn’t rape those women and girls because of social media. He raped them because he chose to commit a crime against them. How does “social media” earn a place in this headline”? Are they trying to suggest he’d never have raped a woman if he’d had his Facebook account removed?

One of the things I’ve learned since I started FixedIt is that women, men, and even children who are raped or abused by violent men will often read media reports about the crimes committed against them. It’s part of trying to understand what happened, why it happened and what other people think about the perpetrator did to them.

The women and girls he raped were aged between 15 and 28. Imagine being one of those women, or someone who loves them, and reading this headline. How it would feel to see his sentence described as “crushing” and his crime minimised to “social media” rape.

These headlines are not victimless crimes.

The trial judge called his actions “depraved”, “despicable” and “evil”. There’s some words that might belong in this headline.

The rapist was initially sentenced to 40 years, with a 30-year non-parole period. An error was identified (the starting point for his indicative sentence on one count was higher than the maximum penalty) and the appellate judges imposed a sentence of 35 years with a non-parole period of 26 years and three months. A reduction, yes, but this is not the story told by an inaccurate, sensationalised, misleading, and ignorant headline.

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Want to know more? Buy the FixedIt book direct from my website: www.JaneGilmore.com

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron

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