Prigge – Geoffrey John - Photo.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/nepal-charity-work-hid-predators-sex-abuse-of-children-20101114-17sq2.html

Nepal charity work hid predator’s sex abuse of children

Kim Arlington

November 15, 2010

He helped set up an orphanage in Nepal and was known as a ”man of charity”. But there was a darker side to Geoffrey John Prigge’s interest in children, said the judge who jailed him for molesting teenage boys.

Prigge, 55, of Mosman, was the first Australian convicted of child sex-tourism offences committed while in Nepal. He was charged under legislation allowing Australians who offend overseas to be investigated by the Australian Federal Police and prosecuted at home.

At his trial in the District Court in Sydney, a jury found him guilty of five charges related to indecent touching and attempted acts of indecency involving three Nepalese boys aged 13 and 14. He also pleaded guilty to the possession of child pornography at his home in Mosman.

Sentencing him on Friday, Judge John Nicholson said that to his friends and relatives, Prigge was community-oriented and gregarious, but ”to three Nepalese boys … he presented as a predatory, manipulative paedophile”.

The offences were part of a ”careful grooming process” that began on an earlier visit to Nepal when Prigge, a photographer and charity worker, took indecent photographs of boys, the judge said. Returning in 2007, he committed the offences as he showed the victims indecent pictures and a pornographic film in his hotel room.

The court was told the Nepalese appreciate the value of tourism. Judge Nicholson said the boys, who came to Sydney to give evidence, sought to welcome Prigge and downplay his sexual interest in them to accommodate a foreign visitor.

The difference in the financial status of tourists from a First-World country and the local population helped create a ”tidal wave of power abuse”, the judge said, adding that Prigge’s crimes were ”a serious abuse of power”.

The federal police’s national co-ordinator of child protection operations, Alison Wegg, said that even abroad, Australians were not beyond the reach of federal law.

Intervening before children are harmed is a key strategy for the federal police, who can cancel the passports of suspected child sex tourists. Under new laws, planning a child sex-tourism offence or grooming or procuring a child for sexual activity overseas is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

Prigge will serve 15 months behind bars, to be released in February 2012.

 

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