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A Family Destroyed

The recent news that all charges were dismissed by the court in the case of the alleged pedophile circus training center in the Blue Mountains comes as no surprise.

Defence lawyer Bryan Wrench said the case was “totally concocted”. Picture: Adam Yip
Defence lawyer, Brian Wrench for the members of the Cook family who had been falsely accused, charged and imprisoned for the most heinous acts imaginable. Wrench has described the case as one of the most probably one of the "greatest miscarriages of justice this state has seen.”

I started following the story and writing about it when it first broke in early 2018, My interest was because of the exploitative and sensationalized media presentation of it and because the allegations themselves were so reminiscent of the bogus Satanist pedophile scares of the 1980s and 1990s.

I did some digging and quickly found that the Blue Mountains had a history of these types of allegations connected to religious cults. This was also the case here, as relayed to me by friends of the family, but they were restrained from making any of it public due to a court suppression order. I will not go into the details here now either, as that is a matter for the Cook family to decide.

But what I will discuss yet again is the way the case was presented by the media - particularly the Murdoch media and the Daily Mail. These media outlets chose the least flattering images of the accused and continually highlighted their alternative lifestyle, along with the lurid descriptions of the alleged acts upon the three children they allegedly abused. It had the desired effect. Clickbait to whip up the outrage level of the mob on social media.

I hope the family sues these outlets, though no amount could possibly compensate for the damage done.

But more than that, I want to discuss the culpability of the police in this life-destroying fiasco.

The police would have had both sides of the story. The Cook family side was supported by the very films taken that were supposed to be evidence against them. Moreover, the stories included not only bizarre acts of gross indecency - but ones that are physically impossible. The Cook family side of the story was sane, but also extremely sad, given the actual facts which one day may emerge.

The police claimed to have a strong case. But the truth was and remains that they had no case at all. The film of the indecent acts showed no such thing. There was no physical evidence of abuse. One of the children recanted and admitted making the stories up. But despite all of this, the police still maintain that the case should proceed. It seems like the police unit involved is incapable of admitting error. It has certainly showed it is not above trying the case through the media via leaks and downright lies.

Profiling of the family (and their alternative lifestyle), no doubt played a large role in the charges being laid in the first instance. It is a longstanding issue with law enforcement. Ask Lindy Chamberlain - charged with murder because she did not cry on cue as the pop psychology used by police said she must, if innocent. Ask any African-American pulled over in a car or stopped on the street in the US. Or indeed, Indigenous people here, along with certain ethnic groups. Go back to the 1960s and ask the hippies. Or just go to any music festival now and ask around.

The police should also be sued for wrong arrest, and compensation needs to made for time spent in prison, the punitive bail conditions, loss of income, loss of trust and respect in the community and whatever else the lawyers can come up with.

One last issue concerns the comments of one of the magistrates who, on the one hand, admitted the lack of evidence, but on the other, could not conceive of young children being able to make up the kinds of allegations involved. Under normal circumstances, I'd agree. These were not normal circumstances. The children were subjected to the imagery involved through the so-called church they were raised in.