Credit: Facebook
Trans Woman’s Child Porn Conviction Overturned Because She Was ‘Struggling With Her Identity’

Trans Woman’s Child Porn Conviction Overturned Because She Was ‘Struggling With Her Identity’

An Australian appeals court overturned a transgender woman’s conviction on child pornography charges because she had been “struggling with issues concerning her transgender identity.”

According to the Queensland Supreme Court’s Sept. 2 decision, Vetea Joseph Bunton, 22, was caught in January 2016 with images on her phone of children engaged in sex acts with each other and with adults. She was 18 years old at the time.

“There were a total of 15 images depicting young boys between the age of five years and 16 years posing naked, performing oral sex or engaging in anal intercourse, either with other young people or adults,” the court said.

MORE: New Trove of Katie Hill Photos Surface — Show Her Unclothed Hitting Bong and Showing Off Nazi-Linked ‘Hate Symbol’

Last December, Bunton pleaded guilty in the District Court of Burbane to possession of child exploitation material.


During sentencing, Justice Brian Devereaux pointed out that Bunton had told a psychologist that she only got involved with child porn “out of curiosity and at a time when she was struggling with issues concerning her transgender identity and sexual identity.” She claimed to have stopped viewing the material at age 17.

The forensic psychologist, Dr. Gavan Palk, seemed convinced in his report to the court.


“She does not present as a person who is a risk to children. Her sexual offences appear situational and in the context of low self-esteem and lack of confidence due to teenage sexual adjustment issues,” he said. ‘There was no evidence of entrenched paedophilic tendencies.”

Justice Devereaux also noted Bunton’s youth, her lack of a criminal record and the “small number of images” on her phone. But he found that none of these explanations “really excuses obtaining child exploitation material with children as young as five.”

Devereaux sentenced Bunton to two years’ probation and mandatory medical, psychiatric or psychological treatment. She was required to register as a sex offender.

Sympathy for Vetea Joseph Bunton

However, in setting aside the lower court’s conviction last month, the appeals court unanimously deemed Bunton’s punishment “inappropriate” and “disproportionate to the real risk she presents by her offending.”

Writing for a three-judge panel, Justice Philip Morrison acknowledged that “possession of child exploitation material is not a victimless crime.” But, he said, “In my respectful view, the applicant’s circumstances are unusual.”

Morrison argued that Bunton had not been shown to be “sexually attracted to children,” to have abused children or to be a risk to children. He assessed her to be at “low risk of reoffending.”

MORE: Dad Fighting Son’s Gender Transition Releases Damning Video: Mommy ‘Tells Me I’m a Girl’

On the other hand, the judge expressed concern that as a registered sex offender, Bunton would be subjected to “onerous” requirements to report her whereabouts to police for five years. In particular, he worried about her ability to travel abroad and change her name after she “undergoes transgender treatment.”

Also in America

Morrison, who was appointed to the Queensland Supreme Court in 2015, has made controversially lenient rulings before. Last March, he determined a one-month sentence was too harsh for a man who punched his partner in the face and called her a “sl-t” and a “c—.”

In the United States and elsewhere, some observers have accused their justice systems of being too deferential to transgender suspects and criminals in particular. On Monday, a jury in Dallas, Texas, opted not to award Jeffrey Younger sole custody of his son James, whom his ex-wife has been raising as a girl against the father’s wishes.

The Texan reported that the wife’s lawyers said she does not plan to give James hormone blockers at this time. But “no one has stated that she would not be open to using them when James begins puberty,” which would be around age 11 and a half for a boy, the report said.

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the state’s Attorney General’s Office and Department of Family and Protective Services were looking into the boy’s case. 

Cover image: Vetea Joseph Bunton. (Facebook)



Follow Us

Do Not Sell My Personal Information