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article imageChild's on-air rape confession stuns a nation

By Roderick Eime     Jul 30, 2009 in Entertainment
A 14-year-old girl took a city by surprise when she confessed to being raped at 12 while taking part in a live radio station stunt, leaving the show’s edgy hosts gasping in the dead air.
Sydney radio station 2DAY-FM’s morning segment is never far from controversy as they strive for ratings in the brutal radio game, but their “Lie Detector Test” has talkback, chat rooms, and professional opinionists inflamed.
Presenters Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O front the envelope-pushing morning show, combining news, opinion and the mandatory gags and stunts that are the mainstay of Australian morning commercial radio.
In the stunt, where the “contestants” can win concert tickets, the terrified child was hooked up to a lie detector with the mother asking questions about jigging school, dating and drugs. The girl failed. Then came the stunner.
Jackie O: OK, what's your next question, mum?
Mother: OK, Have you had sex?
Girl: I've already told you the story of this. Don't look at me and smile because it's not funny. (Shouts:) Oh, OK, I got raped when I was 12 years old.
(Silence)
Sandilands: Right. (Pause.) And is that the only experience you've had?
Mother: I only found out about that a couple of months ago. Yes, I knew . . .
Girl: And yet you still ask me the question.
At this point the female host cuts the segment and immediately offers counseling and support.
Jackie O: “We have all the right people here. Would you like that because it sounds like you might.”
News Limited columnist, Andrew Bolt, himself usually close to the precipice, tore into Sandilands calling him “a hawking, spitting primitive” who has, if nothing else, forgotten the tenets of good manners.
Yet the debate still rages with just as many defenders as detractors it seems. The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was not among the defenders.
He said the police investigation (of the alleged rape) was "entirely appropriate" in a "tragic situation for this young girl and she deserves all the support and counselling she needs".
Sandilands, however, was quick to accept blame for a stunt that went wrong.
He concluded his own column on The Punch with:
“As far as an apology goes, the only person I feel sorry for is the girl. That what should have been dealt with as her private situation ended up being one of the biggest news stories of the day.
As for what I said, it wasn’t intended to hurt. If people have found it appalling or offensive I’m sorry for them that feel that way, but I would ask people to put themselves into the situation where someone says to you during a live radio show that they have been raped.”
Police and community services workers are working with the mother and daughter.
More about Rape, Child, Radio, Ethics
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