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Australian Aboriginal Leader Guilty of Gang Rapes

Past head of the now defunct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Jeff Clarke, is guilty of leading two pack rapes and has been ordered to pay $20,000.00 in damages to his victim.

The rapes occurred in 1971, 35 years ago. Australia has no statute of limitations on sexual assaults and the victim did not come forward until Mr Clarke’s cousin disclosed that Mr Clarke had raped her when she was a teenager.

In a jubilant moment, the once victim encouraged other victims of childhood sexual assault to gain strength from the verdict. "Truth's out, the reality's out," she said. "There's a lot of people out there who have been waiting on this outcome ... they can do it, they've got power."

Sexual Assault and Rape are not about sex: they are power crimes. Designed to bring pleasure only to the attacker and degradation, violation and fear to the victim, sexual assaults and rapes will remain unchallenged until victims start taking their power back and the community starts listening.

Mr Clarke’s abusive behaviour has not occurred in a vacuum. He has a long history of being in trouble with authorities.

· 1952: Geoff Clark born to Aboriginal mother and father of Scottish descent. Raised by his grandmother Alice.
· 1967: First conviction for robbery in company, receiving, housebreaking and stealing; gets two years' probation.
· 1970: Sentenced to 12 months in youth training centre for assault, serves eight months.
· 1971: In March and April leads two pack rapes against Carol Anne Stingel.
· 1996: Elected in December to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission board after rising through ranks of Aboriginal activists in Victoria.
· 1999: Becomes first elected chairman of ATSIC in December.
· 2000: Cousin Joanne McGuinness alleges Clark raped her in 1981 when she was 18. Insufficient evidence to send case to trial.
· 2001: The Age publishes claims Clark raped four women in the 1970s and '80s.
· March 2002: Clark guest of honour at the Lodge, Canberra.
· August 2002: Stingel files statement of claim alleging Clark raped her when she was16.
· December 2002: Clark and "Sugar" Ray Robinson are re-elected ATSIC chairman and deputy chairman, despite both facing serious legal scrutiny.
· February 2003: The Australian reveals ATSIC has agreed in principle to allocate $45,000 for Clark to fight criminal charges arising from a pub brawl.
· March 2003: The Australian reveals Clark took his wife, Trudy, on a $31,000 taxpayer-funded trip to Ireland because "she deserved a break".
· March 2003: Clark convicted in Warrnambool magistrates court on two criminal charges arising from a pub brawl on May 1, 2002. He appeals and is partially successful.
· April 2003: Then indigenous affairs minister Philip Ruddock sets the stage for using the federal budget to strip ATSIC of control of its $1.2 billion budget.
· April 2003: McGuinness begins civil action against Clark.
· July 2003: Ruddock sends Clark a letter asking him to show cause why he should not be removed for misleading the minister and bringing the national indigenous body into disrepute.
· August 2003: Clark handed suspension notice while attending ATSIC meeting in Darwin.
· February 2004: Victorian judge John Hanlon finds Clark led two pack rapes against a woman 33 years ago. The decision is overturned on appeal in May 2005 and the judge is criticised for his ruling.
· 2004: John Howard announces abolition of ATSIC.
· 2006: High Court gives Stingel the right to bring her case before a jury.
· January 31, 2007: Victorian County Court jury finds Clark raped Stingel.
Stuart Rintoul. The Australian, Feb 01, 2007

Until we report all crimes and stop accepting sexual assaults as normal male behaviour, we will be unable to adequately profile the escalation of criminal behaviours. It is well supported that sexual deviance, particularly adolescence sexual deviance, often follows a pattern of escalation. Reporting incidents as they occur allows for healing and prevention.

A compensation payout to victims of assaults does little to prevent crime from occurring again. It is time for our world to be proactive in protecting our children while they are children. In the words of Jeff Clarke’s victim: you’ve “got power.”

This world is full of men and women who have long carried the guilt and burden of having been assaulted as children. The crime is not theirs. The crime belongs to the perpetrators, those people who often go unchecked and move on to increasingly violent crimes because few people talk about, or report, sexual assault when it occurs.

It’s time to talk. Were you sexually assaulted as a child and never told anyone? Leave an anonymous comment and give strength to yourself and others not yet brave enough to talk about what happened to them.

For those interested in follow up reading or evidenced based interventions for working with children who sexually offend, here’s an excellent Literature Review compiled by the Australian Childhood Foundation: Children who engage in Problem Sexual Behaviours: Context Characteristics and Treatment.

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