Hiding in plain sight
On 30th December 2013 the UK Telegraph newspaper reported the shocking news from an appeal in the high court in Italy of the release and the order for a retrial of a 60 year old social worker convicted of sexual acts with an 11 year old girl.
Was it a false allegation? Had he proved his innocence? No.
The child was from a poor family who knew and trusted the social worker. He had been caught naked in bed with her after an investigation by police.
Shockingly the Italian high court overturned the original verdict and subsequent appeal on the grounds that they had not taken into account “the ‘consensus’, the existence of an amorous relationship, the absence of physical force, the girl’s feelings of love”.
It’s hard to find the words to comment on such a decision, but most especially for the reasons given. If ever there was an example of one sector of society being out of touch with the views of other sectors of society then this has to be it. I would hope that in England such a high court decision would lead to calls for an investigation into the practices of the high court judges who consider an 11 year old girl can have amorous feelings of love for a 60 year old man (as opposed to the kind of familial love a child feels for their parents and grandparents). Where are their sexual boundaries I wonder?
All the time paedophiles hide in positions of authority, such as social services, the courts and the police, or publicly as famous faces, such as the recent scandals concerning Jimmy Saville and the subsequent Yewtree investigation, the public, and children especially, will be at risk.
As social workers, as police, teachers, health professionals, legal officers, we should be alert to injustices and the potential for our positions of trust to be occasionally abused (and fortunately for most it is only occasionally). We must be prepared to speak up when we see or hear of such injustices. That the Italian high court did not support this child and her family, and instead will put them again through the traumas of legal proceedings and a retrial is utterly incomprehensible.
Since the news of the October ruling became public in December a heated debate has begun through the Italian social network media. Long may it continue.
(this blog is based on the news reporting as it has been available at the time of writing)