My heart really goes out to Brigitte Fell. As if it wouldn’t be traumatic enough to be unlawfully outed by bigoted policemen and as a consequence attacked by her partner (who broke into her home to carry out his assault), she now faces the prospect that the officers will merely receive community service orders from the magistrate.
Two New South Wales police officers, Brendan Ritson and Tyrone Stacey, have been charged with the unlawful disclosure of information after an incident at Surry Hills police station in September 2006.
They had arrested Garrick Jacobson for suspected theft and assault and then looked up information about his girlfriend Brigitte Fell. Having found that Ms Fell had undergone GRS more than 12 years ago, they then used the information to embarrass and humiliate him, without a thought for how this would affect Ms Fell.
Jacobson told the hearing he was in custody at the police station when the constables told him he had been “rooting a bloke”.
On his release from custody, Mr Jacobson broke into Ms Fell’s flat and attacked her.
If convicted, the two officers will lose their jobs, whilst Mr Jacobson’s offence “falls within the mid range”, according to Fleur Sullivan, for the crown. It’s unclear what recompense will be made to Ms Fell, who was punished two-and-a-half years ago by three cis men, even though she had committed no crime. Indeed, it’s difficult to know what compensation could put right the damage done by the combined efforts of these three transphobic bigots.
Despite Ms Fell’s innocence in the matter, it’s depressing to see the policemen’s lawyer, Joe Klarica, playing the victim-blaming card in his defence of the transphobic bigots. He called for community service orders, telling the magistrate that their lives “cannot get any lower” as one had already lost his marriage and both had suffered public humiliation. Needless to say, no concern was voiced for the suffering that Ms Fell has undoubtedly experienced.
In the Downing Centre Local Court yesterday, constables Tyrone Stacey and Brendan Ritson were sentenced to 125 hours community service for unlawfully disclosing the sensitive information to a man in the cells.
The officers had pleaded not guilty to accessing Ms Fell’s confidential personal files on the police computer system and unlawfully disclosing the information to their detainee.
[The magistrate] Mr Bartley said that while their careers were in jeopardy, their previously clean criminal records and prior good characters “weighed substantially in their favour”.
But he rejected their lawyer Joe Klarica’s submission that a conviction would be punishment enough for the pair.
“It is time for the offenders to put back into the community what they have taken out of it,” he said.
Lawyers for Ritson say they intend to launch an appeal.
I’m pretty disgusted by this outcome – but not surprised.
Because – as we know only too well – as far as Planet Cis is concerned, trans people’s lives just don’t matter.