'We felt we were alone'

THE grandmother of a toddler who was sexually assaulted by a Bundaberg childcare worker has spoken out to thank the community for its support.

Following the court appearance last week of a man who fondled two three-year-old girls in his care, the Bundaberg community has spoken out against the man's crimes and against the "lenient" sentence handed to him by the judge.

The man, who cannot be named to protect his victims, was sentenced to 14 months jail, wholly suspended for two years, and 18 months probation after pleading guilty to three counts of indecent treatment.

The NewsMail printed a series of readers' letters and SMSes since the story came to light, with many expressing their horror that the man walked free.

"I wonder how the judge ... who allowed that child predator free to roam the streets again can sleep at night," one person wrote in.

"What is the world coming to when a man convicted for touching little girls walks free?" another commented.

"People are filthy on the system for not locking that paedophile up, but the system's broke. Paedophiles are mentally ill criminals, but the system does not class them as mentally ill," a third said.

The grandmother of one of the girls said it was comforting to know the family was not alone.

"I just wanted to thank the people that wrote in and supported our family," she said.

"We felt like we were alone before reading all the comments. They summed up exactly how we felt and they are strangers."

The grandmother, who has full care of the assaulted child, said she was very angry when the man was allowed to walk away without spending time behind bars.

"The judge said it wouldn't adversely affect the children because they were only three," she said.

"But she is having counselling sessions twice a week.

"I used to have a happy little girl. Now she lashes out at me and her family."

The woman said the man's attack had turned the family upside down.

"He lived just around the corner so we had to move," she said.

"It's totally devastating."

The grandmother said she was thrilled to hear the Attorney-General had ordered the man's sentence be appealed.

"It justified everything we had been feeling," she said.

"I want him in jail."

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