The boy leaving court with his parents. Photo: Aja Styles
A so-called schoolyard “avenge” attack involving the secret recording and posting of a 14-year-old girl’s sexual acts on Facebook has earned a 17-year-old boy a year in juvenile detention.
The underage girl was victim to serious physical threats, including getting “mobbed” and would be “put in hospital” the next day at school, if she did not comply by indecently exposing and touching herself via a webcam.
The whole thing was recorded, unknown to her, and posted online for “everyone at school and the world to see”, a Perth Children’s Court magistrate said during his sentencing of the teenage boy, whose identity is protected by law.
Children’s Court Chief Magistrate Denis Reynolds said the boy, who was posing as a fellow male school student using a fake Facebook account, spent 1.5 hours pressuring the girl which went “beyond bullying” and left her scared and frightened.
“You were aggressive and threatening right from the start,” Mr Reynolds said. “…[Afterwards,] she felt sick and ashamed and she also felt her mum would be angry at her.”
And the reason, according to the boy’s submission to the court, was to get revenge on the boy whose identity he had stolen because he had picked on a friend.
But Mr Reynolds rejected the claim as the boy’s only motivation, and said the teenager had also gained sexual gratification from the recording because each time the girl did something he made her take it a step further.
He even tried to coax her into having sex with him in order to get the video removed from Facebook, Mr Reynolds said.
“Your behaviour showed a callous disregard for a vulnerable young female,” he said.
The girl was not the only one targeted, after the boy attempted similar acts with two other girls who managed to resist his threats. Mr Reynolds said there were also others who were planned to be targeted before the matter finally came to light.
The boy admitted to six charges, including forcing an underage girl to do an indecent act and the recording and distribution of child exploitation material, once police traced the crimes to his computer.
His mother, who is Iranian, made an impassioned plea to Mr Reynolds, saying, amidst her sobbing, that her son had never before done anything wrong and the whole family had been damaged by his actions.
“I am sorry to this girl, I have one daughter. I believe my son is guilty,” she said in broken English.
She also explained that as part of their Baha’i faith, sex was prohibited for those under the age of 18. The boy was also seen crying in the dock as he listened to his mother.
His lawyer Annie O’Neill said her client was sexually naive and his actions “had taken a life of its own” through the ease of utilising such a “dangerous tool” as Facebook. And he himself had been the subject of bullying through racist taunts.
Mr Reynolds said he didn’t know of any culture that would accept such behaviour, which he compared to adult offenders downloading pornographic child material.
He said in some way, the boy’s offences were worse because he created the material and had sought to humiliate and degrade young females.
Mr Reynolds said he was concerned about the long-term effects on the teenager’s victims and acknowledged the video may never be totally removed from the internet.
“It’s not virtual, it’s not virtual at all. It’s all very real,” he said.
The boy will get rehabilitation at Banksia Hill Detention Centre, while his family will also receive some emergency psychological counselling, according to Mr Reynolds.