Colt clan incest case
The Colt family incest case, dubbed by media as the Colt incest clan, is an Australian family discovered in 2012 to have been engaging in four generations of incest beginning with "Tim and June Colt," who emigrated from New Zealand in the 1970s. They all lived on a farm near Boorowa, New South Wales according to NSW law case notes.
Emigration from New ZealandEdit
In the first half of the 20th century, "June", born in 1948, and "Tim Colt", born in 1943, lived in New Zealand.
In 1966, June, the product of brother-sister incest, and Tim married and had seven children together: Martha, Frank, Paula, Cherry, Rhonda, Betty, and Charlie, before moving to Victoria in the 1970s. Tim Colt started to have sex with Betty when she was 12. Tim made a musical band with his family.
Growth of the familyEdit
The family grew to nearly 40 members ranging from grandparents to mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, nephews, brothers and sisters all engaging in various forms of incest. Many of the children suffered from deformities and medical problems. School attendance was transient and happened only when welfare officers came, and children needed remedial teaching once there. Some children tortured animals, mutilating their genitals, as pastime.
Children and adults had regularly engaged in sexual activities, resulting in children, some with genetic deformities. There were incidences of the girls being tied up to trees by the boys to have sex. They had no access to running water, showers, toilets or hygiene products. Most of the children had fungal infections. In order to hide the pregnancies, the girls would sometimes miscarry on the farm, or fatherhood was attributed to outsiders from outside Australia coming to the country for work or tourism.
The case has been described by lead investigator Peter Yeomans as, "like nothing I've ever seen," and was considered by many to be so shocking that in a rare move the New South Wales Children's Court allowed full details to be made public, albeit with all names changed to pseudonyms for the children's protection, including the family name of "Colt."
Relations with outsidersEdit
After the death of June in 2001 and Tim in 2009, the family was led by Betty Colt, who received multiple social security payments, including disability and family support, along with her brother Charlie Colt who, together, had 12 children.
Starting from the 1990s, the family was known to frequently relocate between South Australia, Western Australia, and Victoria before locals became suspicious. They relocated to New South Wales, 30 kilometers outside of the small town of Boorowa, three and a half hours southwest of Sydney. The police ultimately discovered nearly 40 members of the family living under squalid conditions in tents and shacks.
They sometimes performed as a musical band.
Discovery of the caseEdit
Knowledge of the family came to authorities in June 2010, which led to seven "risk of significant harm reports" being reported. However, an official investigation was not opened until July 2012 when a child reported overhearing another child at a local primary school speaking of an unkempt girl, living in the bush, who was pregnant with a child fathered by a brother. The child overheard the girl state that one of her sisters was pregnant and they did not know which of her brothers was the father.
Police and welfare services involvementEdit
Over the next year police tracked the family down and, after obtaining a betterment of the living conditions on the camp, put several children in foster care including Bobby (Betty's son with her brother) and Billy (Betty's son/grandson). Police discovered the living area of 38 members of the family in the bush located on the outskirts of New South Wales. The Colts were charged with incest and child neglect.
Betty Colt legally disputed the charges and attempted to regain custody. After tracking the cellular activities of Betty, police discovered text messages of a sexual nature sent to her son, Bobby. She and Bobby had made plans to abduct Billy from foster care. Genetic testing showed that Bobby was the product of incest between Betty and a father or full brother.
The case has been described as unique because of the reluctance of the victims to come forward. It has been said that there are difficulties in determining the guilt of particular offenders, due to their behaviour existing on a moral continuum and the law being dichotomous in nature, being an 'absolute concept'. Therefore, even though the victims may have actually consented to the relationships, the law still deems it as criminal.
Divulgation of the case by the courtEdit
The Children's Court of New South Wales took the unusual step of publishing its decision permanently removing the children. In the court's findings, the neglect of the children and genetic evidence were viewed as dispositive in the matter, holding, "There is no realistic possibility of restoration of any of the children [to their biological family]."
A number of attempts by the elder family members to establish connections with the younger have been blocked by the courts. While in care, the children started by often displaying sexualized behaviour, whether between them or with caretakers, although these habits faded over time.
Australian police attempted to deport Betty to New Zealand, the country of her birth, after the completion of her sentence, but Betty fought the deportation, was released from the deportation center on November 2015, where she befriended a model, and is now residing in South Australia with her daughter Raylene and at least two other male relatives. She also attempted to contact other relatives through Facebook.
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