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Amy Olver

Published: 04 November 2016
Author: Amy Olver

Salvos sexual predator Robert Burnett likely to die in jail

Robert Burnett, the 77-year-old former employee of the Salvation Army who worked at Bayswater Boys’ Home, has been sentenced to 18 and a half years in prison for the sexual abuse of seven boys between the years 1973 and 1999.

Burnett will be eligible for parole in 14 and a half years at which time he will be aged 91. He is therefore likely to die in jail.

Showing no remorse, Burnett forcefully maintained his innocence, therefore subjecting the survivors to 14 separate trials. Despite his lack of repentance, during sentencing arguments Burnett sought leniency from Justice Bill Stuart, stating that he feared dying in prison. However, in sentencing Burnett his Honour noted that Burnett had two sides;  behaving in a caring manner during the day but exposing another vile side to the children he abused at night. In sentencing him, His Honour said that Burnett was remorseless and incite-less.

Reporting historical abuse can lead to conviction

The sentence imposed on Burnett will come as a relief to many survivors of abuse who report a renewed sense of hope that they too may see justice served on the paedophile predators whose abuse has remained hidden for too long. This is only reinforced by news from the NSW police this week that two former Salvation Army officers have been charged over historical offences allegedly committed in the 1960s and 1970s (see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-03/salvation-army-ex-officers-charged-with-child-sex-abuse-offences/7991362).

The establishment of the SANO taskforce within Victoria Police, a taskforce comprised of specialist sexual abuse detectives and established to investigate historic and new allegations of abuse, has been vital in taking a step towards bridging the gap between survivors and authorities. According to Victoria Police all allegations are treated confidentially and survivors of abuse may chose to remain anonymous should they wish.

Survivors should come forward

Ryan Carlisle Thomas encourages any survivors of abuse to report their allegations to the police if they feel comfortable doing so. It is our view that if you are a survivor of child sexual or physical abuse it is important that your allegations are investigated by the police. It is important to note that even if charges are unable to be laid, the fact of your complaint may still assist in future investigations.

The Task Force SANO can be approached by email at: sanotaskforce@police.vic.gov.au or by telephone on (toll free) 1800 110 007.

Ryan Carlisle Thomas have been successful in bringing claims for compensation against the Salvation Army for alleged abuse by a number of offenders, including Burnett.

If you or someone you know suffered abuse whilst in a Salvation Army home and want advice regarding your potential rights please contact us on 1300 366 441.

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