Bill Henson makes a lot of money photographing n-ked or semi-n-ked pre-pubescent children. This is called Art by the Left glitterati. Most decent Australians would call it P-rnography. It is a matter of debate as to which side of the line we place Henson.

We now discover that Sue Knight, the (then) principal of St Kilda Park Primary School, invited Henson to look around the school and select young models about 15 months ago. It is reported that a new book (by David Marr and excerpted in The Age over the weekend) states that Henson walked around the playground at lunchtime, accompanied by the principal.

This is not good enough. Nowhere near it.

I ask this: By whose authority did Henson trawl for subjects/victims? As he was accompanied by Knight then she obviously approved. Were the parents of the children at the school given the facts? Did the parents consent? Did the school Council approve?

Primary-school children are not of an age to legally consent to their bodies being used by Henson in this way. It may be that even their parents (no matter how progressive or artistic they may be) do not have the legal right to use their children’s bodies for n-de modelling.

I must say that I cannot think of a greater dereliction of duty and breach of trust towards innocent young children than that committed by Knight as principal of the primary school.

Let me go a step further. If Henson’s work in portraying n-de young children is p-rnography, then perhaps a jury of his peers should try the issue. But it gets worse. Not only should the police be investigating Henson, but principal Knight’s conduct should also be investigated. Knight must have known the purpose of the visit was:

  1. To identify pre-pubescent models who were students at her school,
  2. For her to facilitate an introduction of Henson to the children and parents and
  3. That Henson wished to photograph the selected children either nude or semi-nude.

Section 67A of the Victorian Crimes Act defines child p-rnography as including a photograph of a minor “depicted in an indecent s-xual manner or context”. Henson’s photographs fall within this definition. Section 68 makes it a criminal offence if a person “makes or produces child p-rnography”.

The penalty is 10 years jail. Section 69 provides that a person who invites or causes a minor to be “in any way concerned” or procures a minor for the purpose of making or producing child p-rnography commits an offence which carries five years jail.

On the facts provided so far in the media, it is open for both Henson and Knight to be charged. As I said, let a jury of their peers decide. If they are convicted then they can go to jail, Art or no Art.

Peter Fray

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