Written by Andrew Tiedt
March 17, 2016
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has continued to produce shocking revelations about the actions of people who didn’t do what they should have done when allegations of Child Sexual Abuse were brought to their attention.
Grant Davies had pled guilty to abusing more than 10 children he was teaching dance to.
Whilst over the years many people had brought the matter to the authorities’ attention, in this manner the complaint that finally brought about Police action was made by Grant Davies’ wife and other members of his family after his wife discovered photographs and emails of a sexually explicit nature sent to a young student.
Naturally, spouses are not always so keen to report allegations of serious criminal offending by their partners. In many cases, our experience is that a spouse will rather try and deal with the matter in some other way to avoid their family being negatively affected by a Police investigation and potential imprisonment.
As a starting point, the law does not require a spouse, parent or child of the defendant to give evidence. Section 18 of the Evidence Act 1995 means that a spouse, parent or child of an accused person is not “compellable” to give evidence. This rarely used section provides for a person who has that connection to an accused person to claim what is often referred to as a “spousal privilege” and ask to be excused from giving evidence
There are broad exceptions to this rule for, amongst other things, alleged victims of domestic violence abuse, who can, notwithstanding their position, be compelled to give evidence against their spouse. As a consequence of these exceptions, it is unusual to see the privilege granted.
In this case, Grant Davies’ wife has not only brought the matter to the Police attention along with other members of the family, but has recently given evidence to the Royal Commission about how she discovered that her husband was abusing children and what she did about it. It seems likely that Mr Davies wife’s efforts were crucial in having the Police finally investigate him.
Usually child sexual abuse exists in secret and is incredibly hard to discover and prosecute. The victims, being children, do not necessarily have the same ability to bring matters to Police attention as an adult.
Moreover, victims of child sexual abuse often do not understand that what is being done to them is wrong.
This is why the actions of adults like Grant Davies’ wife are so important as often they are the only person in this situation who recognises what is going on. Given that the actions of Grant Davies’ wife caused the breakup of her marriage and no doubt caused incredible pain to people that she loves, her actions are all the more admirable.
In the event, she was not required to give evidence as Grant Davies entered a plea of guilty to the various charges he is facing. He is awaiting sentence later this year.