“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
. – Henry VI, Part II; Act 4, Scene 2
I would like to invite Charles Waterstreet, Australian barrister and author, to take a long walk off of a short pier.
Seriously, it’s lawyers like him who give the good ones a bad name. I am sick and tired of people like Mr. Waterstreet putting pathetic drivel in print, acting as if they are somehow morally superior to the rest of us.
What he posted yesterday – which he no doubt hoped would be perceived as a touching human interest story about a mother’s “plight” – did nothing more than anger me beyond words. I am outraged that he had the audacity to imply that a wrong was committed on the part of the justice system based on the ethnic background of this woman’s sons.
For shame, sir.
The title of Mr. Waterstreet’s Op-Ed piece (no comments were allowed – more’s the pity) was “A Mother’s Tale of Heartache“, and it ran in Sunday’s Sydney Morning Herald.
On Mother’s Day.
Mr. Waterstreet’s cheap theatrics make me absolutely sick. He tells the – to him, at least – heart-rending tale of a woman in Australia whose two oldest children are in jail.
To his credit, he acknowledges that these young men did, indeed, commit the crime for which they are serving time. I am sorry that this woman has to spend all of her Mother’s Days driving to visit her sons, but to be fair, if her little darlings hadn’t done the crime, they wouldn’t currently be incarcerated.
No, Mr. Waterstreet is merely asking his readers to ponder whether the sentence imposed upon these young men was too harsh, then has the unmitigated gall to toss the racial/ethnic card into the mix (highlighting mine):
Sentences for crimes similar to those committed by Bilal and Mohammed suggest they have been disproportionately punished. One suspects there may be racial and ethnic prejudice at work.
Mind you, he is very careful to emphasize that the family LOVES their countrymen – it’s just those mean old judges who had it in for their sweet little boys:
The parents love Australia and do not blame Australians. They blame what they see as an unjust legal and political system that has unfairly crushed their sons’ lives, including any hopes of creating families of their own.
No doubt there are a few instances in the legal system of young men being given sentences which are disproportionate to the crimes which they have committed; however, a quick (as in less than two seconds) Internet search entering the boys’ names immediately directs the Gentle Reader to a Wikipedia entry (!?!) which tells of the crimes these “unfairly crushed” younglings committed:
The Sydney gang rapes were a series of gang rape attacks committed by a group of up to fourteen Lebanese Australian Muslims led by Bilal Skaf against Australian women and teenage girls, as young as 14, in Sydney, Australia in 2000.
Pillars of the community, these two.
I don’t know about the esteemed Mr. Waterstreet, but most “garden variety” crimes don’t earn themselves their very own Wikipedia entry – as a matter of fact, most of them don’t even make the local papers.
The crimes— described as ethnically motivated hate crimes by officials and commentators— were covered extensively by the news media, and prompted the passing of new laws. The nine men convicted of the gang rapes were sentenced to a total of more than 240 years in jail. According to court transcripts Judge Michael Finnane described the rapes as events “you hear about or read about only in the context of wartime atrocities”.
Did you get that, Mr. Waterstreet?
It would appear that the “racial and ethnic prejudice” at work here was not on the part of the legal system, but rather was a motivation for your beleaguered perpetrators, one of whom had the lovely message “When you are feeling down … bash a Christian or Catholic and lift up” saved on his cell phone at the time that it was seized by police.
I suppose the Gentle Reader who is unfamiliar with these crimes might be forgiven for making the assumption that these young men are not native Australians, but in reading Mr. Waterstreet’s column it is revealed that this mother immigrated to Australia in 1981; ALL of her children are Australian citizens. For whatever reason, this mother’s sons made a conscious decision to identify themselves as Lebanese, rather than as Australian.
No doubt Mr. Waterstreet is a firm believer in teaching young children to identify more strongly with their cultural roots rather than being taught any of that icky national pride for the country in which they are born and raised.
These young men are a shining example of how well that oh-so-enlightened progressive idea is playing itself out.
This mother’s younger son, Mohammed, made sure that one of his victims was aware of the “ethnicity” of the people she was dealing with:
Skaf, whose identity was suppressed until yesterday because of his age at the time the crimes were committed, was the teenager who, with four others, lured an 18-year-old from a train at Bankstown on August 30, 2000.
Later, as the first of 14 to rape her that day and having stolen her mobile phone, he told her: “You won’t get your phone back until you f— me.” He then thrust her face-first into a toilet block wall and declared: “I’m going to f— you Leb-style.”
The prosecutor, Margaret Cunneen, said Skaf was “so brazen, so arrogant, so unmoved” by the miserable plight into which he had lured the woman that he returned near the end of the six-hour ordeal – in which she was raped 25 times – to sexually assault her again.
It appears as if some of the multicultural/diversity
propaganda education also rubbed off on Mama’s oldest boy – when his faithful fiancée finally saw the light and broke off their engagement, he did what any nice young man would do:
Convicted serial rapist Bilal Skaf has turned on his once-loyal girlfriend and drawn pictures of her being sexually violated and executed with a machine-gun.
The five drawings found in Skaf’s maximum security cell at Goulburn Jail’s Super Max have horrified prison officers because of their images of violence and sexual depravity.
In one hand-drawn cartoon, an army officer is seen firing bullets into a woman at point-blank range. Blood is dripping from her wounds and seven spent shells are on the ground beside her body.
In another she is being gang-raped with one of the accomplices saying to the rapist: “Hurry up man there’s 50 others waiting.”
Skaf, who is serving 55 years in Australia’s toughest prison for three pack rapes, started his hate drawings in March after his girlfriend broke up with him.
Mr. Waterstreet thinks that perhaps these young men were given too harsh of a sentence. What he neglects to tell his readers is that the original sentences for both of these moppets WERE reduced back in 2005, to the outrage of the Australian public at large:
Five gang rapists who horrified Sydney with their attacks on teenage girls have had their jail terms cut by up to 18 years on the basis their crimes did not belong to the “worst class of case”.
The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal said the ringleader, Bilal Skaf, should serve 28 rather than 46 years, his brother Mohammed 19 years instead of 32 and three others about two-thirds of their original sentences of up to 25 years. Bilal, 23, will be eligible for parole when he is 42 in February 2023, and Mohammed, 22, when he is 28 in January 2012.
The appeal court said that while the judge had “a most difficult task to perform”, he had handed down “manifestly excessive” sentences. However, it said the parole terms would still allow “for a lengthy period of supervision to adjust to society”.
If I’d been sitting in judgment on this case, the original 55 years’ verdict would have been the LEAST of their worries; I would have been in favor of public castration, and I would have happily handed each of their victims a rusty handsaw and told them they were free to mete out “appropriate” justice.
One wonders if any of the members of the appeal court took the time to read what Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham had to say 2 years BEFORE they handed down their decision:
“During my career I’ve seen pornographic material crafted by inmates but this is the first time I’ve seen drawings by a gang rapist encouraging gang rape.
I believe the drawings depict the way he thinks. It tells you the way he thinks about women….He’s learnt nothing since his trial and conviction. He should be taking stock of the damage he’s done to his victims and to their relatives.
I’ve seen a lot of rapists show remorse and elect to do something about their offending behaviour. They have those options and they do exercise them, but he hasn’t.
He hasn’t shown any remorse at all.”
Mr. Waterstreet, I have no doubt that you are well-acquainted with the facts of this case, yet you chose to insult the intelligence of your readers by suggesting that somehow the justice system had overstepped its boundaries when sentencing this mother’s sons.
Shame on you for daring to suggest that the ethnicity of this woman’s sons’ had anything to do with what you perceive as “unfairness” in the harshness of their sentence – in reading the facts of this case, it appears that her little darlings picked their victims solely based on their lack of being a member of the “correct” ethnicity (interestingly enough, Mama didn’t adopt the hijab until AFTER her sons were arrested).
Nice try, though – I’m sure your fellow travelers will be more than happy to pat you on the back and offer you some lucrative spots on the lecture circuit; no doubt you’ll get some expensive meals as part of the deal as well.
All because on Mother’s Day 2013, you had the audacity to suggest that your readers feel sorry for all of the hardships that this mother of two misunderstood young men continues to endure, purely out of love for her sainted sons.
Mr. Waterstreet, did you ever once stop to consider the feelings of the mothers of the young women who were brutally victimized by this mother’s two paragons of virtue?
Did you ever consider the feelings of all of the mothers who read your “pity this poor woman” column? I hate to break it to you, pal, but most of the women who read your self-serving, bleeding-heart, holier-than-thou diatribe don’t want monsters like this woman’s sons out and about, preying on their own innocent children – ethnicity be damned.
Did you ever take the time to think about the horrors that these men – who to this day have expressed absolutely no remorse for their crimes – most assuredly would visit upon other mothers’ children, were they ever allowed back out in society?
Did you conveniently forget to mention this mother’s alleged outburst at one of the trials, when she reportedly screamed in Arabic in court: “It’s not a crime to f— a white slut“?
This mother’s sons forever changed the lives of seven young women – and by extension, the lives of their mothers.
Why not tell THOSE mothers’ “Tales of Heartache”?
Excellently written, and I do hope for Mr. Waterstreet’s sake he never, EVER, has to be on the other side of the coin. I don’t wish that on anyone.
I do hope, however, that the populace teaches him a lesson on what it means to be human.
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I agree, Aggie. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if he thinks people like us are the bad guys; seeing as we don’t share his enlightened views….
Extremely well written Teresa. We can only hope thousands take the time to read this socially important response to Mr. Waterstreet’s dribble.
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Thank you so much for your kind words; he kinda pissed me off…..
Thanks for your very eloquent take on this Teresa. I’m from the area of Sydney where these appalling crimes took place, and my blood was boiling on reading this load of rubbish from Charles Waterstreet on Sunday. And in the Sydney Morning Herald no less – ordinarily a very intelligent newspaper. Just thinking of what those poor girls endured makes me shudder to this day. The more of us speak out the better.
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I would imagine that most people over here in America have never heard of this horrific crime spree – the Internet was still rather new back in 2000; even today, most crime stories tend to stay local. I’m sure that most people in Australia who were around at the time still remember this, though – something like that stays with you.
I hope that the young ladies who were victimized by these monsters have been able to move on; the more I read about this case, the madder I got – I have 4 daughters of my own, and I can’t imagine any of them having to endure something like that.
There’s a special place in Hell for people like this mother’s sons……
Thanks so much for this post. I know I’m reading it months later, but the whole case still infuriates me.I am Australian and I have a degree in Criminology, so I have studied this case quite intensely. I am outraged that Charles Waterstreet thinks nothing of what the victims endured, and nothing of the crime being racially motivated. How dare he accuse our legal system of racial discrimination in this particular case! Australia does have a nasty reputation for racial discrimination against our first people (the Indigenous Australians), and rightly so, but the Bilal Skaf case is racial in every aspect.
I do not feel sorry for Skaf’s parents in the slightest. Their two eldest sons are in prison for atrocities committed against women based on race, and yet Mrs Skaf had the audacity to attempt to smuggle letters out of prison for Bilal. The letters described “only as love letters” to his then fiancee, contained detailed drawings of the prison layout. For that she was banned from seeing her precious little boy for two years.
Not at any time have the criminals nor their parents expressed any remorse for what those poor victims went through, and would still be living through today. Their only concern is for themselves. Mrs Skaf is worried that her two other children will be racially vilified because of their names and the link to the Skaf rapists. She’s upset because poor Bilal can’t eat her home cooking. She suffers poor health because she has to drive a long way to visit her rapist sons in prison constantly. But no remorse or sorrow for the girls who were raped repeatedly at knife and gun point for hours on end. I for one feel absolutely no empathy for them whatsoever. And I will not feel anything but disdain for them until they admit that what their sons did was a disgraceful crime, and condemn it in every way.
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From what I’ve read about this case, it was utterly horrific for the young women who were involved. I have 4 daughters, so this case really hit home.
The thing that gets me is, Mr. Waterstreet seems like a likeable enough guy. We have some lawyers over here in America who are referred to as “Rent-seekers” or “Ambulance Chasers” – they’re generally one step lower than pond scum; Mr. Waterstreet doesn’t strike me as that type of person.
Unfortunately, he seems to be one of those types who wants to litigate a case for the novelty of it – tilting at windmills, if you will – without any thought to the lives that he may be affecting.
Life isn’t a textbook, and it sure as heck isn’t a law school laboratory.
I sincerely hope that the Australian legal system won’t ever entertain a motion from any lawyer attempting to reopen this case based on the feelings of these animals. Those young men would do well to remember that were it not for the protection of the legal system, they would probably not be here, as outraged citizens would have taken the law into their own hands not long after those two were identified.
Thank you so much for your response. I just stumbled about Charles Waterstreet’s article and it left me fuming. I felt the need to respond but I couldn’t have put it any better.
It was hard to believe that he could be serious when he said the jail sentence was a “crushing sentence for a young man” – isn’t that the point after the atrocities the brothers committed and the danger they still pose to society? And he had the nerve to say it was “an inhumane deprivation for parents and siblings” – what the rapists did to those girls was inhumane and the lasting effects will be felt by THEIR parents/siblings/relatives/friends workmates for the rest of their lives.
Thank you for a well thought out article with supporting evidence!
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No one in Australia should have any sympathy for that woman. That article was nauseating, the SMH should be ashamed for allowing it to be published, especially around mother’s day.
Mrs Skaf, your sons weren’t sent to prison for being Lebanese but for raping women. We do send white men to jail for that too!
I noticed that Charles Waterstreet omitted mentioning the way Baria Skaf conducted herself during the trial of her eldest son. How she made spitting noises at the girls her sons had raped, calling them shamoota (slut in Arabic) and even screaming out “It’s not a crime to rape a white slut” during court.
They should rot there!
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Thank you for writing this. I recently saw a documentary on Bilaf and was prompted to research him further. I was really angered and disgusted when I read the story about his mother and elated when I saw you followed up with the facts. Thank you!
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I’m so glad I found this response. I stumbled across this article today and couldn’t believe what I was reading. What would be his motivation for writing this and inviting sympathy for the rapists and scummy family? Does he hate women?
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I think he is an “ambulance chasing” lawyer, but I could be wrong. It boggles the imagination, doesn’t it?