Child Protection

A recent case where a man who had thousands of indecent images of children on his computer has not featured as predominantly in the media as I would have thought …. it does however raise HUGE concerns in my mind!
Phillip Carmichael, the defendant, who had 7000 indecent images of children has Parkinson’s disease. The medication he was on can have some bizarre side effects including ‘hypersexuality,’ it was this that the defence argued successfully that was the cause of his behaviour and the downloading of these images. So successful was this argument that Carmichael was given an absolute discharge.
While I have sympathy for Carmichael in terms of the disease that he has and the undoubtedly weird side effects of the medication, the case does raise questions in my mind.
1. Concerns about medication becoming a legitimate defence for abuse.
2. Concern for young people who are/have been abused and the message this sends.
3. BUT the biggest worry for me is it seems to be a legitimizing children being sexual objects. The medication creates ‘hypersexuality’ and I’m wondering whether this means the removing of all sexual taboo or morals or rather that it gives vent to existing sexuality?
I found a 2006 report on impulse control disorders in Parkinsons treatment that talks about medication leading to “disinhibited behaviours”
“disinhibited behaviors, things that patients “have had some interest in but suddenly [it] becomes a passion or addiction, like gambling, Internet card-playing, or various kinds of sexual activity — even shopping.”
There definitely appears to be a worrying question hanging here about hypersexuality.
I’m not sure why I wrote all this, I think that having read about this case in the newspaper I felt uncomfortable about it and wanted to further explore why that was?

9 Replies to “Child Protection”

  1. I feel really uncomfortable about it too. I think that even if his medication played a part, there had to be something underlying there in the first place. It does in fact, make me mad that he has got away with a complete discharge. I am not sure that abuse can ever be excused although I do agree that his medication could well have had some influence.
    Laura

  2. Yes, it does raise concerns. I think even if the medication could cause such an interest, it is a short step from “the medication gave me an addictive personality – its not my fault” to “I was born with an addictive personality – its not my fault”.
    But I would still question whether ‘hypersexuality’ inevitably leads to a sexual interest in children. Pedophilia (in the literal sense of interest in prepubescent children) is a paraphilia – where, to be blunt, the brain is wired up wrong and trigures sexual desire from abnormal causes. Downloading ‘normal’ porn might be the begaviour of a hypersexual addictive personality. Downloading child abnuse pictures shouldn’t be. IMHO

  3. IMHO it creates a loophole that will be exploited. This case may have a legitimate exception in the eyes of the law but the law is meant to uphold and protect the innocent and here it appears that there is now room for excuse on an offence that is not excusable, in my mind at least.

  4. Does the fact that he had a complete discharge mean that any CRB check wouldn’t even show a question against him?

  5. This is hugely concerning.
    Whilst side effects of drugs can be a contributing factor, and thus lessen culpability, the idea that they remove guilt completely is horrific. Particularly when the crime is that of child abuse.
    I think part of the problem is that the down-loading of child-pornography images is seen as less serious somehow. This is misleading for two reasons, firstly there is good evidence that people who view images initially often go on to actively abuse and secondly it is a demand-driven business and every single image involves the abuse of a child.
    One of the child protection charities (sorry, I can’t remember which one) wants the media to not use the term “child-pornography” because it gives some legitimacy to the taking of sexual images and that they should always be referred to as “images of the sexual abuse of children.” I have a lot of sympathy with this view. Renaming evil is a very effective way of hiding the fact that it’s evil.
    Similarly to blame a medication is to take an evil action and rename as an unfortunate consequence that the perpetrator couldn’t control.
    The end point of that is more children suffering abuse.
    I have had some experience of the often-life-long scars that the victims of abuse carry with them. Enough to know how truly awful this is and how anything that weakens the battle to stop abuse is simply catastrophic. The legal president is very worrying indeed.

  6. What did he say? “I have had some interest in children as sexual objects, but it wasn’t till I started taking the drugs that I did anything about it.” Great, brilliant. That’s wonderful.

  7. The taking of medicine can not be an excuse. In criminal law, mens rea – the Latin term for “guilty mind” – is one of the necessary elements of a crime. This man surely knew he was doing wrong when he did this, he had a “guilty mind” and therefore should have been found guilty.

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