Excused for sexually humiliating a woman

ADFA Skype case at the ACT Supreme Court. The two convicted cadets. At left is Dylan Deblaquiere and at right is Daniel ...

ADFA Skype case at the ACT Supreme Court. The two convicted cadets. At left is Dylan Deblaquiere and at right is Daniel McDonald. Photo: Graham Tidy

In August, former ADFA cadets Dylan Deblaquiere and Daniel McDonald were found guilty in the ACT Supreme Court of using a carriage service in an indecent manner. Back in 2011, the pair had orchestrated a scenario in which McDonald was filmed having sex with one of their ADFA colleagues and live streamed into a room of six men (including Deblaquiere).

On Wednesday, the pair were each sentenced to 12 month good behaviour bonds. The charges of indecency carry a maximum of five years, but Acting Justice John Nield took into consideration the pair’s "young age, their good prospects for rehabilitation, the likelihood they would not reoffend, and their otherwise unblemished criminal record".

So it appears that boys will be boys, or so the routinely offered mantra goes whenever society is forced to confront the abuses inflicted by men afforded individual and pack privilege.

Lawyer, Francis Cahill, centre front, addresses the media with Dylan Deblaquiere, left,  and Daniel McDonald, centre back.

Lawyer, Francis Cahill, centre front, addresses the media with Dylan Deblaquiere, left, and Daniel McDonald, centre back. Photo: Graham Tidy

Indeed, there was no small amount of blame attributed to the female victim when the case came to light. Sexual relationships between cadets are forbidden at ADFA, a fact which naturally led to a proportion of Australians arguing for equal retribution against the target of Deblaquiere and McDonald’s "prank" when the case first gained public attention.


Evidently, being betrayed and then humiliated in front of her peers and subsequently ostracised and bullied by them (she recalls being referred to as "that Skype slut") wasn’t enough punishment for a woman who many saw as being the linchpin in the destruction of innocent boys’ careers. And make no mistake - there will be many in the community who welcome the end of her prospects while mourning the loss of theirs.

The social imperative to force complicity on to victims is strong in Australia, particularly when robust masculine codes are involved. Yes, what the men had done was wrong in a way - but she had to know what she was getting into, and why was she there in the first place, and what kind of woman, and she probably agreed and then regretted it and and and and all the other caveats and excuses we can come up with to avoid dealing with the stark reality that if there are dangerous fractures in the sexual conduct of our younger generations, they are agitated not by our women but by our men.

This communal act of disregard for another human being is not an isolated incident. The news is full of examples of men bonding over the violation of women, from Steubenville to the pack rapes in Cleveland, Texas to Daisy Coleman in Maryville; the pack rape of a 13 year old runaway in Austin, Texas to the gang rape of a 16 year old homeless girl in Brunswick; the rape and subsequent murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey on a New Delhi bus to the almost identical attack on Anene Booysen in Cape Town to the recent brutilisation of a young Kenyan girl that has left her in a wheelchair.

Not all of the incidents linked to directly above are exactly the same, but they all have one thing in common: they exist on a continuum of violence that is supported by a perceived sense of unquestionable masculine entitlement. Because what leads a group of men to participate in the pack degradation of another human being other than the deeply held belief that it is their right to do so?

When Deblaquiere contacted McDonald via text to say, “I just had a f---in sick idea pop into my head, f--- her n film it”, he wasn’t demonstrating a unique imagination. Rather, he was following in the footsteps of a long line of similarly privileged men who are empowered by society to behave exactly as they like towards women, and who will continue to be so as long as incidents like these are written off as the simple mistakes of men who got a little too carried away.

In all the noise surrounding women’s complicity in sex attacks and what women can do to avoid them and how it’s women’s responsibility to be aware, there is an infuriating resistance to identifying the real problem: to wit, that it is men en masse who perpetrate these crimes, and there is precisely nothing being done to challenge the behaviour that tells them it is their right.

In 2011, Deblaquiere and McDonald were not yet 20 years old. And yet, fresh from the "good" childhoods Acting Justice Nield said had been characterised by intelligence, positive performances in school and an otherwise unblemished criminal record, they thought nothing of orchestrating an event whose sole purpose was to sexually humiliate a female colleague for the gratification of their fellow peers, not one of whom was sufficiently disgusted by the act to try and stop it or even to report it.

Even throughout the trial, Deblaquiere and McDonald tried to protest their culpability, insisting that the woman had consented to being filmed despite identifiable evidence to the contrary. The lack of remorse isn’t just obvious, it’s downright frightening. And where does that come from, other than the internalised lifelong messaging that tells them they have the right to treat women like this because their dignity and right to experiment with "mistakes" is given precedence over a woman’s right to exist at all?

We are suffering a global epidemic of sexual violence, and it manifests in myriad different ways. The cancerous tumour at the core of all of this isn’t the brazen insistence of women to live "reckless" lives but the fundamental enforcement of masculine rights to space and power.

Lieutenant General David Morrison moved many people when he declared his intention to stamp out misogyny in the ADF. “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept,” he said, and those words have been quoted many times since. And yet, here we are again, walking past with a pathetic 12 month good behaviour bond. Nothing to see here folks. Keep it moving.

And the world, it keeps turning.



  • Pathetic. The ADFA is pathetic. I guess none of those deciding what should happen to these two men have daughters or wondered how they would feel if it was their daughter.

    Date and time
    October 25, 2013, 7:57AM
    • We should not forget that this punishment is courtesy of the civilian justice system, not the military justice system. They've already been discharged by the armed forces over 2 years ago, although that said, I hope they are not yet beyond the reach of the military justice system and it may still have something to say on the matter.

      Date and time
      October 25, 2013, 10:26AM
    • Oh, but THEIR daughter would be different. THEIR daughter wouldn't have been having sex with the bloke in the first place.

      That's why those sorts of ideas don't pop into their heads - they feel free to make up their own mind about what 'particular' women 'deserve'.

      with his sister, because again, it's HIS decision as to what's right and what's not.

      cuts both waysc
      Date and time
      October 25, 2013, 10:41AM
    • Christain, they were not discharged by the Military two years ago - one is still a member and the other left of his own accord.

      Thomas Gale
      Date and time
      October 25, 2013, 11:27AM
    • How exactly are the rapes and violent acts referred to in the story the same as consential sex? Yes the spying was wrong but to state several cases of violent rape and brutality and say they were the same shows a lack of respect for the women who suffered those brutal encounters.

      Date and time
      October 25, 2013, 11:40AM
    • Christian actually only one of the two is out of the forces, the other may soon be dismissed but hasn't been yet.

      Date and time
      October 25, 2013, 11:45AM
    • They did something irresponsible, stupid and will pay the price on their reputation for the rest of their lives - being famous for being perverts is not exactly a 'good result' for any of them.

      Criminal penalty in the form of jail time should be reserved for acts of egregious brutality - not handed out depending on public 'outrage'. Otherwise justice is not "justice" - just retribution.

      Thank the lord you lot are not the trial judges and executioners. Most educated people realise just what a difficult job the judicial system faces - and that our judges and legal system does a pretty good job for the most part.

      Enraged Sock-puppet
      Date and time
      October 25, 2013, 11:46AM
    • "They did something irresponsible, stupid and will pay the price on their reputation for the rest of their lives "

      And no mention of the price on HER reputation? If you read the case, she suffered significant abuse and harassment as a result of THEIR behaviour, she can no longer work in her preferred career and you call it 'irresponsible and stupid?'

      Unbelievable, reading comments suggesting, in mitigation, the effect it will have on them (poor boys, eh, what a price to pay?) without even mentioning the price she has paid.

      Date and time
      October 25, 2013, 12:28PM
    • ljb - why on earth is ADFA pathetic?? The whole point of this article is about the leniency of a sentence handed down by the ACT Supreme Court!!
      As far as ADFA is concerned, every Inquiry to date has found that the case was handled correctly:
      - the incident was reported to authorities by oner of the cadets who was offended by what occurred,
      - it was then handed over to the civil police because of the nature of the incident (military laws are hardly appropriate),
      - despite some claims to the contrary, the victim was offered counselling and support
      And, finally, this sort of behaviour is not a function of ADFA training or culture. As Ms Ford has pointed out in some detail, this is a societal issue. Those cadets had been at ADFA just 8 weeks when the incident occurred, hardly sufficient time to break the kinds of behaviour young men have already developed, and instil in them the culture and values we would expect of our Defence officers.

      Date and time
      October 25, 2013, 12:31PM
    • I think it's based on the fact that the victim is all the more vulnerable when confronted by a group of men. They're more helpless.

      A woman may even surrender just to try to stay alive.

      They must all clue into some insane thought that they can corroborate that it was "consensual".
      They just mustn't see women as equal beings. Their humanity is just completely overlooked. It doesn't occur to them that they wouldn't want to have it done to their wives or their daughters or their mothers. They somehow choose to overlook the reality of what they're inflicting. It's a very violent and dehumanising act.

      Freaky that some of them can become a pack. Yuk. Cowards.

      Date and time
      October 25, 2013, 12:34PM

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