Trigger warning for medical and sexual violence.
The case of deregistered and abusive obstetrician and gynaecologist Graeme Reeves was covered here several times (see the graeme reeves tag). There’s been a name publication ban associated with his trials this year that’s been lifted: throughout this year there have been reports of the trial of “a former doctor” reported in the NSW press.
In March, a jury found Reeves guilty of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on [Carolyn] DeWaegeneire with intent to cause her grievous bodily harm in 2002.
In April, Judge Woods found him guilty of indecently assaulting two patients, while conducting internal pelvic examinations.
Reeves pleaded guilty in February to obtaining a financial advantage by deception, involving his breaching a ban by carrying out obstetric procedures.
Survivor Carolyn DeWaegeneire rejects the sentence:
Standing outside Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court where Reeves was sentenced by Justice Greg Woods this morning, Carolyn DeWaegeneire said she was “livid” that Reeves could be released as early as 2013.
“Until now I thought the law was to protect the public and the people. I have now learnt otherwise,” she said.
“I was hoping that a woman would be treated equal to a man.”
Asked what sentence Reeves should have been given, Ms DeWaegeneire said: “If your penis was cut off and your scrotum cut-off how long would you want the man to serve?”
She rejected Judge Woods’s decision to mitigate Reeves’s sentence on the grounds he is suffering from severe mental illness.
Quotes from Victim livid at Bega doctor’s sentence by Paul Bibby, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Jul 2011.
Note on selection of front page image: the image is the photograph of Carolyn DeWaegeneire by Simon Alekna from the SMH article. I decided not to use Reeves as his face is rather stuck in my mind, and if anyone else is in the same boat I don’t want to trigger them on the Hoyden front page.
Categories: gender & feminism, law & order, medicine, violence
I also suspect that if he hadn’t been a doctor it would have been a longer sentence
Manifestly. Inadequate. As Ms DeWaegeneire said outside the court, “if a penis and scrotum had been cut off what sentence would you give him?” And, as an aside, what would the sentence be for unsolicited genital mutilation of a girl? As for the judge’s “recommendation” that the doctor be in future prevented from having patient access, wtf? Why isn’t he de-registered, permanently, nation wide, with no prospect EVA! of patients, male or female.
Hmm. This strikes me as a moment to call on Jo Tamar. I seem to recollect that the options for judges are either jail or a sentence to mental health treatment (which often lasts longer than a jail sentence, and involves residence in an institution designed for the treatment of mental health), and that the combination of the two, without a compulsory aspect to the psychological treatment (though it may just not have been reported) is not the way it usually goes.
But there are some massive problems showing up in this case, which I think are going to continue to be increasingly difficult to negotiate, about the increasing psychologising of criminality, which is being taken to reduce criminal culpability and responsibility in cases like this. I personally wonder about the politics of where the line is drawn between criminal liability and the mitigation of it on the grounds of psychological disturbance (which is not necessarily wrong) in relation to the assumed significance of the crime, given the victim’s sex, gender, ability, race and so on… It’s not that I really know how these situations should be dealt with, but in the context of the development of the new DSM (which proposed but rejected a ‘coercive paraphilic disorder’ for those who like to rape) and these kinds of court results, it’s probably a (really hard) conversation worth having. Especially since it seems to me that the increased psychologising of criminality plays a key role in reinforcing the stigma attached to mental illness.
And drsusancalvin, according to the Crimes Act of NSW, in the section which specifically deals with the female genital mutilation (as it is widely known), and gives a sentence of up to 7 years (hope that link works!).
I find the notion that the man gets a lighter sentence purely “because he has a mental illness” to be not only frustrating, but highly annoying, as well as rather insulting. Of course, I’m mentally ill myself, so I do have a dog in this fight – the dog in question being my constant efforts to present a legal, moral and social image of a “good loony”. I may be mentally ill, and it may well be something I’ve been fighting with all my life, but it isn’t something which prevents me from behaving in a moral fashion, from obeying the laws of the land, or from behaving in a socially acceptable fashion. I don’t believe my mental illness trumps everything else, up to and including someone else’s right to bodily integrity. I have spent my life trying to provide an example of someone who has a mental illness but who is capable of functioning in society.
Quite frankly, however, cases like this leave me wondering why the hells I bother.
I’m really bothered by the victim-blaming implied in this quote from the judge: “nothing in the conduct of these ladies invited this behaviour” (from ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/07/01/3258446.htm)
Because the only conduct of these women that could have invited this behaviour would have been explicit requests for such activity (it’s a possible sexual preference I suppose) and in that case, they wouldn’t have pressed charges.
I see it as inevitable that criminial behaviour will increasingly be considered from a psychological point of view, whether the accused truly was responsible for zir actions. And I believe the “solution” to that conundrum is to think less about punishment and revenge, and more about prevention and protecting society (women in this case).
In this case, given he’s already breached bans in the past, taking away his ability to practice medicine with patients is blatantly inadequate.
I get so frustrated with people successfully using depression as an excuse. I have had depression, several times, and whilst I know that everyone’s experiences are different, having had exactly the same diagnosis (major depression) as this man, I find it hard to accept that that should reduce the sentence.
More generally, to me it seems that there is a masculine form of depression which is accepted as diminishing responsibility in legal contexts (eg. sportsmen using drugs) or is constructed as a heroic struggle (eg. Andrew Robb and his very medicalised, biological account of his ‘diurnal variation’). Meanwhile, I can’t hep but feel a little trapped by the more psychologically-focussed feminine models of depression which apply to me (as a woman) – Gail Bell’s ‘the worried well’, any kind of ‘prozac nation’/just take some fish oil advice – which is a little too close to the narratives which blame sufferers for being weak or slightly too sensitive, or even hysterical.
I guess this is a little off-topic, and I apologise for that. I guess I wanted to say that, though I have major depression, I don’t believe that this excuses this kind of assault (or any other), and I am just gobsmacked at the sentence – it’s so inadequate. And my heart goes out to Ms DeWaegeneire (who I thought was so very brave, and so impressively articulate), as well as to the other victims.
Carolyn Dewaegeneire’s case against the Graeme Reeves demonstrates how bureaucrats entrusted to protect the public from deviants like Reeves knew the many ways he was offending against women but failed to stop him.
[rest of comment deleted at author’s request ~ moderator]
An update: the Crown is appealing the sentence as manifestly inadequate.
Hearing about crimes can be disturbing but images may show more than words can possibly convey.
Having known some of the offences perpetrated against women by misogynist, deviant and predator ex-Dr, Graeme Reeves, I was astonished to see an image of how he mutilated Carolyn Dewaegeneire.
The images on this site show the surgical wound of a vulvectomy including removal of the clitoris and how the gaping wound is sutured.
No image of Carolyn’s wound was provided to the jury. The sentence handed down by Judge Greg Woods (specific to Reeves’ crime against Carolyn) was ONE YEAR WITHOUT PAROLE.
Lenient sentencing and just plain idiocy we see emanating from ‘Bench’ decisions is because judges have by stealth, usurped the role of juries in sentencing convicted criminals.