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Defence webcam sex scandal a betrayal of trust

Posted by on April 6, 2011 0 Comment

Defence Minister Stephen Smith says he cannot imagine a greater “betrayal of trust” if it is true a Defence Force cadet filmed himself having sex with another cadet and broadcast it via webcam.

An unnamed 18-year-old female student at the Defence Force Academy has gone public with the latest sex scandal.

She says vision of her having consensual sex with a male cadet was broadcast to other cadets.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Federal Police are investigating.

Mr Smith says Defence Force personnel need to be able to trust their colleagues.

“In those circumstances I can’t think of a greater betrayal of trust of a colleague in the workplace than the suggestions that have been made,” he said.

“Once that trust is destroyed then it is very difficult if not impossible for the person who has broken that trust to remain a Defence Force personnel member.”

Mr Smith was asked if he would be frustrated if the female cadet had not immediately received counselling.

He said if this or any other information was brought to him by the media he would pass it on to Defence Chief Angus Houston.

Mr Smith said the entire ADF leadership was taking the issue very seriously.

“And I regard it as a most serious issue,” he said.

“Any vilification … is inappropriate.”

The Defence Minister said he’d been told the 18-year-old had received proper support.

“She is receiving all the support and counselling which ADF personnel receive at a time of difficulty.”

The woman involved could face her own disciplinary procedures for potentially breaking so-called fraternising rules and going public with the scandal.

Mr Smith said that was entirely a matter for the normal Defence procedures.

“If that is to occur, it will occur subsequent to the investigation of this very serious matter, which is qualitatively different in every respect from any suggestion that the young woman concerned may not have followed appropriate defence procedure,” Mr Smith said.

“I regard those as very much 10th-order issues.”

Mr Smith said he had asked the Defence Chief to inquire into allegations the woman had been vilified since making her allegations.

Mr Smith called on all ADF personnel to treat the woman with “civility and dignity”.

“As a general proposition I believe any vilification of a member of the Defence Force is inappropriate.”

Mr Smith said he read a briefing note on the matter at the weekend which included the AFP’s initial advice that the allegations did not warrant a criminal investigation.

“I queried that and said I’ve long been a lapsed lawyer but I’m not confident that is right,” Mr Smith said.

The AFP later decided to take another look at the matter.

“I’m not suggesting they looked at the matter again as a result of my response.

“But when they looked at the matter again they came to a formal conclusion that the matter warranted investigation.”

Mr Smith said he was entirely comfortable with the woman’s decision to make the matter public.

“I believe a public airing of this issue in all of the circumstances was appropriate,” he said.

“I don’t believe the young woman concerned should be viewed poorly or dimly as a result of bringing this matter to public attention.”

Mr Smith said he hadn’t spoken to the woman concerned and he wouldn’t.

It was suggested by a reporter at the Defence Minister’s press conference that the 18-year-old had only gone to the media because she had been ignored internally.

In response, Mr Smith said the issue of publicising the incident was “separate” from any academy rules regarding fraternisation which may have been broken.

He issued a warning to any Defence Force member who fell short of community standards of behaviour.

“They run the risk of discovering that their time in the ADF is cut short.

“That particularly applies to inappropriate conduct in public.”

Earlier today, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she didn’t want to say anything which could prejudice investigations by the ADF and the Federal Police.

“But if I can make a point more broadly, any conduct that treats a woman in a way that her dignity is pushed aside, that engages in misusing trust, breaching trust, going out of the way to embarrass her dignity and sense of self-worth, is disgusting conduct and we would all repudiate it,” she told Fairfax Radio in Brisbane.

“It’s not what we would want to see in this country.” Agencies

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