A 2-year-old toddler was allegedly placed in an induced coma after she was sexually assaulted in the outback Australian town of Tennant Springs.
The baby girl was allegedly attacked in her home on Thursday evening, Feb. 15. Before the incident, a party involving alcohol was held at the house, a source told the NT News.
The girl was flown to the hospital at the nearest regional centre, Alice Springs, on Friday, and then transferred to Adelaide on Saturday, where she was put into an induced coma, reported the NT News.
A 24-year-old man was arrested and charged with sexual intercourse without consent. He appeared in Tennant Springs Local Court on Tuesday, Feb. 20, where he was denied bail.
According to the ABC, the Northern Territory Government confirmed that child protection services had received multiple substantiated reports about the child in recent months.
The Acting Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Nicole Manison, said the system had failed the child, reported the ABC.
“We need to do more, because it’s unacceptable to see we have failed this child.
“We will look at this situation and what happened in this particular case and why we failed this child, and what we must do to make sure we don’t fail any more children the same way,” she said.
Manison said the child protection agency will be reviewing all cases where multiple reports have been made about the same child.
Tennant Creek Mayor Steve Edgington told the ABC that the community was in shock over the abhorrent incident.
“The community is in shock over this, I’m in shock over it, we do need to do something about it.
“The alleged sexual assault of a toddler in Tennant Creek really was the straw that broke the camel’s back in [town] today,” he said.
The rural town in Australia’s Northern Territory has a population of 3,000, with 50 percent of residents identifying as Indigenous.
Mayor Edgington said the local Aboriginal leaders held an urgent meeting on Tuesday to discuss what happened, and possible ways to address the town’s issues.
“The Aboriginal elders have banded together, they want to find solutions to preventing this from ever happening again,” he said.
According to police, the incident occurred on the same night where there an unusual spike in the number of police call-outs, reported the ABC.
Officers attended 58 incidents in the town between 3:00 p.m. on Thursday and 6:00 a.m. on Friday – almost twice as many call-outs as usual.
Duty Superintendent Rob Burgoyne said alcohol was a major factor behind the increase in crime.
Last Tuesday, Feb. 13, a 41-year-old man was charged with fatally assaulting another man following a dispute in the town, ABC reported.
NT Police Association president Paul McCue told NT News that the incident was tragic.
“Everyone has a right to live in a safe environment, including our children,” he said.
“Other agencies and the public themselves need to play their part and contribute to a safe community.
“It is difficult to plan for this type of situation, other than working on creating safe family environments for everyone, including children,” said McCue.
The man charged in relation to the attack on the toddler is next due to appear in court on April 19.