Democracy Dies in Darkness

Morning Mix

'The lies, the deception': Australian politician found her husband's child porn and turned him in

By Rachel Siegel

September 8, 2017 at 1:55 AM

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During a speech on Victoria’s state parliament floor, Rachel Carling-Jenkins revealed she reported her husband to police after she discovered his collection of child pornography during a speech on Victoria’s state parliament floor. (Channel 10)

It was a secret she had harbored for 18 months, and now she was baring its most intimate details on the floor of Victoria’s state parliament. Gripping the podium, she spoke slowly and deliberately, her voice shaking.

Rachel Carling-Jenkins, an Australian politician, revealed this week that her now-estranged husband had been jailed for possessing child pornography. She said she discovered the collection in her home in February 2016 and immediately went, along with her son, to report the crime to the police. The images of young girls who have lost “their control over their destiny” will outlast any sentence served by her husband, she said.

“I find myself now unconsciously searching the faces of little girls that I see on the streets, distressed when a face triggers a memory of a photo or a video of a little girl that I glimpsed in his collection,” she said.

In March, Carling-Jenkins’ husband, Gary Jenkins, was sentenced to four months in prison, according to the Canberra Times. He will be required to report to police for the next eight years after being placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

Carling-Jenkins said she had waited to speak out against her husband’s crime so as not to interfere with police investigations or court proceedings, but that it was now time to represent the “voiceless and the vulnerable in this story, the victims.” She said she had no idea before the discovery that her husband was addicted to child porn, but believed he was suffering from mental illness and had tried repeatedly to get him help, only to be rebuffed.

“I look back now with clarity which only comes through hindsight around the lies, the deception and the coverups,” Carling-Jenkins said. “His behavior stemmed from something much more sinister.”

Carling-Jenkins is a politician in the upper house of the bicameral parliament of the Australian state of Victoria. Originally elected to parliament as a member of the Democratic Labour Party, Carling-Jenkins announced in June that she would be switching to the Australian Conservatives Party, according to the Australian.

Prior to her election, Carling-Jenkins worked in the welfare sector for two decades and specialized in social movements supporting people with disabilities, indigenous Australians and women in Australia. She holds a doctorate in social sciences.

In her time in Parliament, Carling-Jenkins has campaigned for government-supported employment for people with disabilities, according to the Australian national news service ABC News.

Carling-Jenkins began her remarks saying “this is going to be a very difficult statement for me to make,” yet continued her speech, speaking up for the victims “who were abused for the sick viewing pleasure of pedophiles.”

“These little girls would not have been abused if people like my ex-husband did not provide a market for that abuse,” she said.

Her marriage had already suffered from what Carling-Jenkins perceived to be her husband’s mental illness, she said, yet “ended instantly” the day she discovered the child porn collection. She said she and her son “were gutted,” only to face further financial, emotional and psychological abuse. Carling-Jenkins said her now-estranged husband has refused to sign divorce papers or grant a property settlement, and against her family’s wishes has continued to contact their son.

But Carling-Jenkins said her husband’s crimes were not about her pain, but about the pain of innocent children whose faces “are etched in my memory for eternity.” She said she did not believe a sentence of a few months in jail and designation as a sex offender were “adequate given the seriousness of the crimes.”

The politician was lauded on Twitter for her honesty in a setting rarely used for such personal speeches. One user praised her “raw emotion” in Parliament while another noted her “strength of character.”

Still, she was quoted after the speech in the Canberra Times saying she was met with harsh criticism from those who believe “that no matter what a wife should not stand up and call her husband out.” She did not name any of the critics except, she said, “it wasn’t all from strangers.”

“I don’t by any means want to make this a gendered issue but it is a prevailing attitude in society,” she said. “I think it’s wrong and it needs to stop.”

Carling-Jenkins took a seat after her speech, but soon she rose again. Standing before her was a line of her fellow members of parliament, waiting to embrace her.

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Rachel Siegel is a national business reporter. She previously contributed to the Post's Metro desk, The Marshall Project and The Dallas Morning News.

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Morning Mix

'The lies, the deception': Australian politician found her husband's child porn and turned him in

By Rachel Siegel

September 8, 2017 at 1:55 AM

Watch more!
During a speech on Victoria’s state parliament floor, Rachel Carling-Jenkins revealed she reported her husband to police after she discovered his collection of child pornography during a speech on Victoria’s state parliament floor. (Channel 10)

It was a secret she had harbored for 18 months, and now she was baring its most intimate details on the floor of Victoria’s state parliament. Gripping the podium, she spoke slowly and deliberately, her voice shaking.

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