Michael Ross Cabrera

Posted: October 21, 2012 by Serendipity in Western Australia
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Man working with children exposed as child porn offender

EXCLUSIVE: Paul Lampathakis

March 21, 2009 06:00pm

BASKETBALL WA will launch a statewide audit of local clubs after The Sunday Times revealed a man jailed for child pornography had been working with young children.

The Sunday Times this week alerted authorities that Michael Ross Cabrera, 49, had supervised boys and girls as young as 12 at the Malaga Meteors Basketball Club.

In 2004 he was sentenced to 12 months jail for posessing 2098 images of child pornography, mainly boys aged 12-16.

Basketball WA operations manager Craig Jackson could not guarantee that more convicted child offenders had not infiltrated other junior teams.

He said local clubs, such as the Meteors, were responsible for checking whether volunteers had the legally required Working with Children cards, issued after criminal record checks.

As a result of The Sunday Times investigation, he would now launch an audit requiring local clubs to provide him with details of Working with Children cards for all coaches and workers.

“I’ll have to ensure that happens because by you just alerting me about this, that’s a warning sign,” Mr Jackson said when contacted by this reporter.

Basketball WA already did such checks with league and state team coaches, he said.

But Rob Fry, president of the peak parent group, the WA Council of State School Organisations, said The Sunday Times’ revelations had big implications for all voluntary sport groups.

They showed offenders could get around Working with Children laws, introduced in 2006 to protect children from sexual predators.

Mr Fry said the WA Government had to either enforce the laws or review them because it was “disgusting” that such people were working with children.

But Mr Cabrera, who community members say has been a co-ordinator, coach and former vice-president for the Meteors, insisted: “I am allowed to work with children. I have an arrangement with the (Meteors) club.”

Child Protection Minister Robyn McSweeney said if Mr Cabrera, who was previously refused a card, was found to be illegally working with children, she would call for his prosecution.

There was “zero tolerance” for such offences.

“The penalty for an individual denied a Working with Children Card who is found to be working with children is up to a $60,000 fine, or five years imprisonment,” she said.

“The same penalty applies to employers who knowingly hire such people to work with children.”

A former Meteors coach, Wayne Blake, said he had unsuccessfully warned people about Mr Cabrera’s past for more than a year, including the City of Bayswater, which owned Morley Sports and Recreation Centre where the Meteors played.

Mr Blake said Mr Cabrera had worked with children aged from about 12-17 at the Meteors and had been on recent outings with them, including a paintball event.

“He shouldn’t be around kids at all,” Mr Blake said.

“He lost all those rights when he got convicted for downloading 2098 photos of young boys in sexual acts.

“You could be the worst pedophile, but no one checks these Working with Children cards. So they’re not worth anything are they?

“Why don’t sports centres and shires ask everyone involved with sporting clubs to produce the card?”

Lesley Blake, listed on the Malaga Meteors web page as club treasurer, refused to answer questions, including whether she had told parents about Mr Cabrera’s record.

She said she and all other office bearers had quit the club, and The Sunday Times understands the Meteors disbanded this week.

A Bayswater council spokesman said after the council received an anonymous call about Mr Cabrera last year, the YMCA, which managed the Morley centre, banned him from the venue until he could show a valid Working with Children permit.

But the council learnt on Friday that Mr Cabrera had subsequently returned to the centre without its knowledge “as part of a booking” made by the Meteors. The council referred the matter to the Department for Child Protection to investigate.


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