Innocent father accused of Satanic child abuse slams harassment laws
- Credit: Archant
The father of the two children who a judge found were tortured into falsely accusing him of sexual abuse, has called for harsher penalties against those who harass people online.
Actor Ricky Dearman says his reputation has been “shattered” by allegations that he had sexually abused his children – allegations since found by a judge to be totally without foundation.
Viewed by more than four million people worldwide, his name and address were also published online alongside the allegations, leading to him receiving “constant harassment” and death threats.
A judge found last Thursday that the false claims – which also alleged he was the leader of a satanic paedophilic cult in Hampstead – were the result of the children’s mother Ella Draper and partner Abraham Christie subjecting his children to “relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse”.
After retracting their allegations during police interviews, Mr Dearman’s two children stated they “had been made to say things by Mr Christie”.
Dozens of other innocent individuals across Hampstead and Highgate also saw their names and addresses published online, with many saying their lives had been “destroyed” as a result.
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Mr Dearman said the case highlighted that “currently the criminal law is inadequate and disproportionate to the harm that has been caused”.
He highlighted “the need for the criminal law to be extended to include sufficient scope for arresting and dealing with offenders who subject others to the abuse, indignity and humiliation of uploading material such as has been uploaded in this case”.
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The Malicious Communications Act (1998) makes it illegal to send another person a letter, electronic communication or article of any description which “conveys a message which is indecent or grossly offensive; a threat; or information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender”.
The maximum penalty for those found guilty is six months. The act has come under criticism from liberty groups concerned about its scope for suppressing free speech.
But Mr Dearman’s lawyer, June Venters QC, told the Ham&High: “Six months is wholly inadequate for the damage done to my client and others in this case. It has ruined his reputation. This case shows we need changes in the law.”