Three NSW men arrested over alleged purchase of child-like sex dolls

Three men have been arrested as a result of coordinated operations conducted across NSW in two days, targeting purchasers of child-like sex dolls.

The men each face a potential 15 years jail if convicted of possessing one of the dolls, under a new Commonwealth offence introduced in September 2019 to combat child abuse-related offences.

A multi-agency investigative team comprising Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF) and the New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF), was formed after ABF officers intercepted three separate importations of the dolls throughout March and April.

Financial intelligence from AUSTRAC’s (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) Fintel Alliance, with support from PayPal Australia and NSWPF, was used to assist in identifying transactions involving the purchase of the dolls.

These detections were referred to the AFP Eastern Command’s Child Protection Operations team to lead the formation of joint investigative teams.

On Thursday (30 April), the investigative teams executed search warrants at two homes – one in the Grafton area on the mid-north coast, and one north of Sydney.

A 62-year-old Grafton region man was arrested at his home, accused of importing a child-like sex doll from China.

Police will allege in court they found two dolls dressed in children’s clothing, as well other children’s clothing items at the property.

The 62-year-old was refused bail and appeared in Lismore Local Court by video-link yesterday (Friday, 1 May) charged with:

  • Two counts of possession of a child-like sex doll, contrary to section 273A.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)- penalty: 15 years imprisonment;
  • Six counts of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)- penalty: 15 years imprisonment;
  • One count of import a prohibited tier 2 item, contrary to section 23BAB(5) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth)- penalty: 10 years imprisonment.

In a second operation conducted Thursday, a 42-year-old Sydney man was also arrested at his Turramurra home, after investigators allegedly found a sex doll designed to look like a young child imported from Japan, and a second doll inside the property.

The man appeared before Parramatta Local Court Friday, 1 May charged with:

  • Possession of a child-like sex doll, contrary to section 273A.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • Import a prohibited tier 2 item, contrary to section 23BAB(5) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth);
  • A state-based possession of cannabis offence.

A detailed forensic examination is being conducted of electronic devices seized from both the men’s homes.

Meanwhile, a third operation was conducted Friday morning (1 May) in the Grafton area. A 37-year-old man was arrested and charged with the Commonwealth offences of possession of a childlike doll, importing prohibited goods without approval, and possessing child abuse material.

He was scheduled to appear before Lismore Local Court Saturday, 1 May.

Police do not allege any connection between the three men.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale, Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), said importing and possessing child-like sex dolls is illegal and any discovery of the abhorrent items, which objectify children, is concerning.

“These arrests highlight the work the AFP is doing with our partners to stamp out any form of child exploitation,” AC Gale said.

“These dolls sexualise children, they are not harmless and do not prevent people from offending in the future.

“Child-like sex dolls can desensitise people who use them to the physical, emotional and psychological harm caused by sexual abuse.

“Research by the Australian Institute of Criminology suggests that use of the dolls may lead to an escalation in child sex offences – from viewing online child abuse material to contact sexual offending.”

Australian Border Force Regional Commander for NSW Danielle Yannopoulos says child-like sex dolls are prohibited items and have no place in Australian society.

“The ABF is committed to detecting these dolls at the border and investigating and prosecuting those who seek to import this sickening material into our community,” Commander Yannopoulos said.

“Officers stopped 18 consignments containing child-like sex dolls and parts at the border in the first three months of 2020, highlighting the ABF’s zero tolerance approach to child exploitation material.”

Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec, NSW Police State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, said these arrests send a clear message to those looking to exploit children.

“Possessing a childlike sex doll in New South Wales is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment, and importing and/or distributing them is also an offence,” Det Supt Kerlatec said.

“Anyone who chooses to sexualise children in any form should know that the NSW Police Force, along with our law enforcement partners, will do everything in our power to put you before the courts.

“Protecting children from those who try to exploit them is and will always be a priority,” Det Supt Kerlatec said.

The AFP will continue to work with ABF, NSWPF and AUSTRAC’s Fintel Alliance to identify international suppliers and other persons who have imported child sex like dolls into Australia. This will include the examination of financial data and engagement with international law enforcement to eliminate the supply of childlike sex dolls in Australia.

Anyone in the community with information about child exploitation material or related activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or to submit a confidential crime report via www.crimestoppers.com.au.

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