UNITED KINGDOM, April 8, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An English judge has ruled that a 24-year-old male pedophile was “seduced” by a 13-year-old girl after the man watched the teen perform intimate acts over a webcam.
Twenty-four-year-old David Barnes of Darlington, Co Durham was arrested in 2009 when police began investigating communication the 13-year-old was having with older males on the internet. Police found over 600 downloaded photos and videos of child pornography in Barnes’ possession and later charged him with 17 counts of making indecent images and forcing a child into sexual activity.
Despite the evidence and Barnes’ probation officer having advised the judge of the pedophile’s “high risk” of sexual harm to children, Judge Peter Fox let Barnes go with a suspended sentence.
“Many people must be puzzled to say the very least at the leniency of the guideline sentencing,” said Fox. “If I sent you to prison it would be for a matter of a few weeks only, hence, as I say, the puzzlement that many people would have about that.”
“The few weeks you would spend in prison would do nothing to stop you doing this again. My concern is for the future – the protection of other children,” said the judge, who argued that the sex offender treatment program Barnes would be required to go through would be better than a prison sentence.
Judge Fox said he accepted the man’s claim that in the “perverted activities over the internet with the 13-year-old” the minor “appears to have seduced you.”
About the child pornography found on Barnes’ computer, the judge said it was “the worst kind of abuse of very small children for the perverted lust of people like you.” He added: “How you could be attracted to that kind of material beggars belief.”
Fox’s ruling has sparked huge fury among critics who say Barnes should have been given a much sterner punishment.
“Thirteen-year-olds have to be protected. It goes without saying, they are children,” said Neil Atkinson, spokesman for the National Victims’ Association. “Intellectually, ethically and legally, this girl – or anyone of that age – could not possibly have been on the same level as a man in his 20s.”
“No 13-year-old can be realistically accused of seducing a man of this age. We find it incomprehensible that a judge could say so,” Atkinson added. “It is abhorrent that anyone in their 20s should, in effect, go unpunished for something that could have led to a far more serious offence.”
Judge Fox has reportedly been known for giving light sentences to sex offenders in the past. In 2001, a 23-year-old man who assaulted three teenage girls was given a suspended sentence by Fox, who called the girls “silly.” In 2009, he gave another suspended sentence to a 21-year-old man accused of sexual relations with two girls, age 13 and 15. A 40-year-old woman accused of sexual relations with a 14-year-old boy also got off easy, with Fox reportedly saying the boy seduced the woman. An appeals court later overturned his ruling and gave the woman a one year sentence.