An Australian coroner on Friday called for a public education campaign on the prevention of child abuse after a teenager shot dead her stepfather and dismembered his body after years of sex assaults.
Coroner Jennifer Coate held the inquiry into the death of the man, who was killed in country Victoria state in 2008, after a murder charge against the girl, who was 18 at the time, was dropped.
Authorities dropped the charge saying it was extremely unlikely a jury would convict the girl based on the evidence, which included the man's cache of photographs detailing the abuse.
“One of the important findings to come out of this investigation is the need to be constantly vigilant and challenge our assumptions about whether or not abuse is occurring and a child is at risk,” Judge Coate said.
“By its very nature, childhood sexual abuse is an insidious crime. Those who perpetrate it typically go to great lengths to avoid detection and ensure that the victims do not reveal what is happening to them.”
Coate said the girl, who cannot be named, had been sexually abused by her stepfather since the age of 14 but had told no one.
Her grandmother, teachers and some friends suspected she was being hurt, but the girl's good grades and a lack of signs of physical abuse together with a lack of firm proof meant no one reported it to authorities.
Coate said the girl shot dead her stepfather with his own gun after he had forced her to perform a sexual act at gunpoint.
“At some point, he had his back turned toward her,” Coate said.
“Without his knowledge, (the girl) had picked up the loaded gun and fired a single shot to the back of his head, killing him instantly.”
The girl told police she cut up his body with a handsaw the next day and buried the torso in the garden and left other parts at a camping ground.
She had not planned to kill the man, but acted spontaneously because she wanted him to “go away”, Coate said.
The coroner recommended the Victorian education department review training provided to teachers and ensure they were aware of identified barriers to the reporting of child abuse.
Coate also called for a wide-ranging education and information campaign for parents and caregivers of all school-aged children on the prevention of child sexual abuse. - Sapa-AFP