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Stop Unfairly Jailing Old Men Over Child Rape Claims 77-year-old Trevor Spurritt, a former maths teacher in Melbourne, Australia, was freed in early February after his convictions was quashed. A …More
Stop Unfairly Jailing Old Men Over Child Rape Claims

77-year-old Trevor Spurritt, a former maths teacher in Melbourne, Australia, was freed in early February after his convictions was quashed. A court had found him “guilty” of nine counts of indecent assault dating back to the 1970s against four male teenagers. One accuser said Spurritt abused him in class while he sat next to a friend who told the jury he never saw anything happen. A second accuser claimed he was assaulted in full view of the whole class. A third said he was assaulted at a camp between 1969 to 1971. But there was only one camp, in 1971, at which Spurritt didn’t participate. He spent almost 12 months in prison after having received an 11-years-sentence.

We Must Cool This Hysteria

Commenting on the case, Andrew Bolt, one of the last honest journalists in Australia, wrote on HeraldSun.com.au: “Stop unfairly jailing old men over child rape claims.” Bolt asks, “How many elderly Australian men must be unfairly jailed for raping boys before we cool this hysteria?” Spurritt was the fourth man in four years to be freed.

Accuser’s Story Re-Written 15 Times

Bolt quotes a lead detective who said that “it’s incumbent on us to believe what complainants tell us.” He re-wrote the accuser’s story 15 times to make it fit the facts — only to still have it crumble in court. This detective was also involved early in the investigation of the falsely accused Cardinal George Pell.

The Unjustice Done to Brother Peter Higgins

Bolt remembers Patrician Brother Peter Higgins who was jailed for “raping a student” in 1976, but a court of appeal quashed his conviction last year. The court said that the female judge who’d convicted Higgins misstated his evidence, falsely claimed his accuser’s allegations were “corroborated”, made findings against the evidence, and wrongly rejected the “powerful” testimony of seven witnesses saying Higgins was a good man. The judge claimed their evidence was “coloured” by the fact that they knew him.

The Unjustice Done to Brother John Francis Tyrrell

There was the case of the frail and partially blind Christian Brother John Francis Tyrrell who was jailed for 11 years on the word of a single false accuser, trying to remember what happened in a Geelong school some 50 years earlier. Two years ago, Victoria’s Court of Appeal freed him. His accuser told the court that he was raped by Tyrrell during a time when Tyrrell wasn’t even at the school.

The Unjustice Done to Archbishop Philip Wilson

Finally, Bolt recalls late Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson who was convicted on a charge so shaky that an appeal court freed him three years ago. His accuser had claimed that 40 years earlier he told Wilson he’d been abused by another priest, Wilson’s “crime” was in not reporting this alleged conversation 28 years later to police then investigating that priest for other sex offences. Wilson insisted he couldn’t recall being told, and the appeal court judge listed 14 reasons to doubt the accuser’s evidence calling it inconsistent.