A STATEMENT BY GERARD HENDERSON CONCERNING THE BOLT REPORT
21 February 2020, 8.42 am
I refer to the statement of Paris Street dated 20 February 2020.
Initially I should state that I had no intention of upsetting a victim of child sexual assault – of whom I know several. I am very sorry for upsetting Paris Street – obviously a fine young man – with respect to my comments on The Bolt Report on Tuesday.
By way of background, the fact is that my comments essentially were directed at Louise Milligan’s Four Corners program “Boys Club” and I made little reference to Paris Street in response to the questions I received.
My only reference to Paris Street, the victim, was as follows:
Well, of course, we are sympathetic to the victim in this case. And I can understand the victim’s annoyance after the event.
The second sentence of the above comment related to the fact that the victim found out that the St Kevin’s headmaster had provided a character reference to the court after the former coach was found guilty of grooming Paris Street.
When I appeared on The Bolt Report, I had no knowledge of the facts of the case beyond those revealed on the Four Corners program the previous night.
My principal comments on TBR turned on the practice by which character references are provided after a person is found guilty – but before sentencing. This has been part of the legal system in Victoria, New South Wales and elsewhere for a long time. Criticism of individuals giving references in such circumstances will lead to a situation whereby the practice will surely end. State governments can abolish the practice if they wish. So far, they have not chosen to do so – and character references remain part of the judicial process.
On The Bolt Report I also said that the St Kevin’s headmaster had acknowledged that he had made mistakes in his handling of the Paris Street case – and I agreed with his assessment.
For the record, I did not say Kehoe’s assault on Paris Street was “not bad at all”. In response to a question as to how “terrible” was the headmaster’s decision to provide a character reference to Kehoe, I replied “Well, not at all”. This related to my comments about such references being part of the criminal justice system.
And my reference to “the time when this occurred” did not relate to Kehoe’s assault but to the timing of the headmaster’s character reference to the court. Also, I made no reference to “2017”.
21 February 2020