Incest paedophile gets shorter sentence after authorities’ inaction: court

Courtney Trenwith

April 24, 2012 – 2:00AM

The failure of child welfare authorities to take action against a father who sexually abused his daughters for six years may have led to him ultimately receiving a shorter jail term, a court has heard today.

Francis Joseph Grego, 69, was last year sentenced to 8 ½ years’ jail on 14 counts of indecent dealing and carnal knowledge between 1977 and 1983, when the girls were aged 8-14 and 10-14.

Grego admitted to five counts, but both of his daughters were forced to testify.

The trial judge, District Court Judge Anthony Derrick, said the girls had lost their childhood innocence and Grego still did not accept the impact of his offending.

The persistent abuse was often violent and involved death threats and forced penetration.

One daughter told the court she was assaulted at “every opportunity” when she was alone with her father, while her younger sister described being abused “hundreds of times”. They gave evidence of playing numerous sports to stay away from the family home as much as possible.

The offences were revealed in 1983 when one of the girls told an officer of the then-child welfare department and the girls’ mother Sandra Grego – who worked at the department – of the abuse.

Grego told the child welfare department that “if anything did happen it would have happened when I had been drinking”, the trial was told.

With Mrs Grego also defending her husband, the department did not take any action against him.

The daughters eventually took their complaints to police in 2010.

During the trial last year, Mrs Grego gave evidence in her husband’s defence and continued to support him after he was found guilty.

In appealing the sentence, the prosecution argued it was “manifestly inadequate” and that Judge Derrick had given too much weight to the length of time since the offences and Grego’s age.

Prosecuting lawyer Joe McGraw said Grego had contributed to the child welfare department’s lack of action by giving a false statement and denying the systemic nature of the abuse.

“Twenty-eight years ago that was deemed a satisfactory response,” Mr McGraw said.

“If this was more recent offending by a man of his age it may well be [a sentence of] 14 to15 years.”

One of three Supreme Court of Appeal judges, Justice Robert Mazza, agreed that Grego would have likely received a double-digit sentence if he had been prosecuted earlier.

Justice Carmel McLure said the case was unusual because the offending had been acknowledged decades earlier but not acted on. However, the delay and the fact Grego had not reoffended since 1983 did not reduce the severity of the crimes.

One of the victims is pushing for an investigation into the handling of her case in 1983, which left her and her sister defenceless and forced to live at home.

The Department for Child Welfare would not comment on any investigation while the court case was ongoing.

A spokesman said no record had been taken of the girls’ complaint in 1983, with an extensive review of the former department’s paper records revealing none had been destroyed. However, he said the department was not disputing that she told a welfare officer.

The court heard although Grego stopped offending from 1983, it was not uncommon for paedophiles to only target their own children or step-children and to stop the abuse once they reached a certain age or maturity.

Mr McGraw said Judge Derrick also erred in placing too much emphasis on Grego’s age and hearing difficulties.

“If it not for his age I would have imposed a significantly longer sentence,” Judge Derrick said at sentencing.

Justice Johnn Buss said age and health did not appear to be major factors that would be detrimental to Grego’s time in jail.

“This is not a man who on the judge’s findings is significantly ill, or to the extent he has any medical problems, which were expected anyway – at 68 things don’t work as well as they used to – can’t be adequately treated to the extent that is necessary while he’s in custody,” Justice Buss said.

“There are much younger people who have blood and cholesterol problems.”

The court has reserved its decision.

Sex abuse payout an insult: victim

Amanda Banks Legal Affairs Editor, The West Australian Updated April 23, 2012, 2:25 am

A woman who was subjected to years of degrading sexual abuse at the hands of her father is calling for a review of the criminal compensation system, saying the meagre amount she can claim for the offences is insulting and would not even cover her psychologist’s bills.

The woman, who is not identified for legal reasons, said it was a “slap in the face” to learn she would only be entitled to claim up to $7500 for most of the offences committed against her by her father between 1977 and 1983 when she was aged eight to 14.

The woman said although no amount of money could compensate for the crimes committed by her father, the system needed to be reviewed – in particular for offences committed against children, which often involved legitimate reasons for a delay in prosecution.

“It is insulting beyond words,” the woman said.

“It reeks of such injustice.”

The woman’s father, Francis Joseph Grego, was sentenced to 8 years jail for nine offences committed against the woman and five committed against her older sister.

At the time, Judge Anthony Derrick said the 69-year-old had stolen the girls’ childhood innocence and committed a “horrendous” breach of trust.

An appeal against the sentence by State prosecutors, who are pushing for a tougher jail term, is scheduled to be heard today. Under criminal injuries compensation legislation, there is a maximum payout of $75,000 to victims of offences committed after January 2004. For offences between 1976 and 1983, the maximum payout is $7,500 and this increases to $15,000 for 1983 to 1985.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said since criminal injuries compensation was introduced 40 years ago, the principle had been that the maximum amount payable was that which was available at the time the offences took place. Mr Porter said the only way to award an amount greater than the maximum was by an ex gratia payment.

Sisters open up after decades of silence

AMANDA BANKS Legal Affairs Editor, The West Australian September 18, 2011, 9:24 am

More than three decades have passed since sisters “Mary” and “Sarah” had their childhood innocence stolen at the hands of their father.

It was 1977 when, unbeknown to each of the sisters, Francis Joseph Grego began subjecting each of the then young children to sordid sexual abuse.

“Mary” and “Sarah” have chosen not to use their real names, saying they want to protect their young children.

But the women have allowed the identification of their parents, even though it could risk revealing their own identities, because they say it is an important part of the process of bringing their father to justice.

Revealing some of the personal details of their experiences to _The Weekend West _ this week brought tears, anger and a sense of relief as issues which had never been discussed between the pair emerged.

It is the slowly dissolving wedge that was driven between the pair – they believe their father deliberately poisoned their relationship in a bid to conceal his abuse – that seems to upset them most.

Grego, 69, was sentenced to 8 and a half years jail late last month on 14 counts of indecent dealing and carnal knowledge.

Both women, who have forged strong relationships with their partners, welcome a decision by State prosecutors to appeal against the sentence on the grounds it is manifestly inadequate.

But they say it is not the length of the prison term, rather the public conviction, which is giving them the chance to move on.

For Mary, just eight years old when the abuse began, the convictions have brought a long-awaited acknowledgment that what her father inflicted on her was wrong.

“To me, I don’t give a damn whether he gets one year or 60 years,” Mary said.

“He has never acknowledged that he has done anything wrong to either of us, he thought it was his God-given right to do it . . . and now I guess him being put in jail, he is realising it is not.”

For Sarah, who was 10 when the abuse started, the sentence carries a sense of retribution.

“The twilight years of his life are going to be hell,” she said. “I think that is justice because he took our innocence.”

Both women recall taking on sports and other activities to try to spend as much time as possible away from the family home.

Sarah said she shut down when her father came to the sleep-out where she was shifted away from her sister.

Mary remembers turning her mind to her favourite fictional character, detective Trixie Belden, as she struggled to endure her father’s abuse.

Mary is pushing for further inquiries into the handling of her case after discovering there is no record of her contact with the then Department for Child Welfare in 1983 – a move which brought an end to her father’s abuse, but left her questioning why she was made to return to the family home.

Two years ago, after a conversation with a family member, Sarah decided the time had come to go to police.

Mary also decided to tell her story. “It is never too late to speak up,” she said.

Abused girls’ mum still with child protection

Amanda Banks Legal Affairs Editor, The West Australian September 18, 2011, 9:22 am

A mother who was told in the early 1980s of her husband’s shocking sexual abuse of the couple’s two daughters continues to be employed by the Department for Child Protection after his conviction last month. However, she has been removed from direct contact with children.

Sandra Grego’s daughters say their mother’s employment at the State Government department responsible for child protection should be further reviewed because she did nothing despite being told when the girls were teenagers of the abuse by their father, Francis Joseph Grego, which started when the girls were aged eight and 10.

Grego was sentenced to 8 and a half years jail last month by District Court Judge Anthony Derrick after he was convicted of 14 offences committed between 1977 and 1983.

Judge Derrick accepted Grego committed countless acts of abuse against the girls over the years.

Prosecutors have appealed against the sentence, arguing it is manifestly inadequate to reflect the criminality of 69-year-old Grego’s offending.

Grego admitted five of the sex abuse charges and his wife then gave evidence in her husband’s defence at a jury trial. She continued to support him after he was convicted of the further nine charges.

Judge Derrick noted Mrs Grego had remained with her husband after one daughter complained of the abuse in late 1983 and when the other daughter told her of the abuse a couple of years later.

“Given your wife’s responses to (one daughter’s) initial disclosure about what you were doing to her and your wife’s responses to (the other daughter’s) disclosures, when she was 17 or 18, of your commission of the offences against her, it is, to me, readily apparent why neither of them felt as though they could report to their mother what you were doing to them,” Judge Derrick said.

“Your daughters were, in every sense, defenceless.”

Department for Child Protection director-general Terry Murphy said Mrs Grego had not worked with children or families since the department was contacted by a family member with concerns about her employment during her husband’s trial.

Mr Murphy said the concerns had been treated seriously and the safety of children in the department’s care was of paramount importance.

Mrs Grego had worked as a residential care officer at a facility which provides short-term accommodation for at-risk children.

She was on leave and would be moved to another role which did not involve direct care of children.

“The department is currently working through the industrial and legal issues in relation to Mrs Grego’s employment,” Mr Murphy said.


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  1. "Mary" says:

    “A spokesman said no record had been taken of the girls’ complaint in 1983, with an extensive review of the former department’s paper records revealing none had been destroyed. However, he said the department was not disputing that she told a welfare officer.”
    Direct quote from one of the above articles…. The welfare officer that the girl spoke to and attended every week for two years following the complaint gave evidence at the court case in favour of the victim. She was told to “do it right as he was a prominent member of Geraldton community”
    I know becasue I am the victim!!

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