Child sex ring lawsuit: Psychologist advises alleged victims not to testify in court with accused | TBEN

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Gerhard Ackerman facing hundreds of charges related to a child sex ring.

  • Gerhard Ackerman, alleged spearhead of a Johannesburg child sex ring, has pleaded not guilty to 740 counts.
  • After pleading, the State called its first witness, a clinical psychologist who assessed the alleged child victims.
  • She has recommended that the victims testify via a CCTV connection so that they are not physically present in court.

The first witness in the trial of Gerhard Ackerman, the alleged hub of a child sex ring in Johannesburg, has stated that some of the alleged victims have to testify via a video link with an intermediary.

Ackerman, 52, appeared before the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday where he pleaded not guilty to 740 charges.

The charges mostly relate to a child sex ring he allegedly ran with the involvement of his former co-defendant, senior attorney and acting judge Paul Kennedy, according to the indictment.

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Kennedy committed suicide before the trial began.

Ackerman has been charged with hundreds of counts of possession of child pornography, several counts of rape, assault, human trafficking and sexual assault.

After she pleaded not guilty and offered no explanation, the prosecutor, attorney Valencia Dube, called her first witness on the stand, Colonel Kirsten Clark.

READ | Child sex ring case: Defendant pleads not guilty to more than 700 charges

Clark, a clinical psychologist with the South African Police Service, had assessed the alleged victims.

She told the court she had conducted a psychological assessment of the children focusing on testifying in court, their ability to take the oath and their ability to consent to sex.

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Clark then went through the reports of six of them, citing their clinical histories, mental problems before and after the alleged crimes, and their ability to testify in court.

For example, in one report, she explained that the person had a troubled childhood and attempted suicide before allegedly being raped and attempted suicide a second time after the ordeal.

She testified that this child could also be regarded as a victim of human trafficking.

In all her reports she found that all named would be able witnesses, could take the oath and understand consent.

She also discovered that they were vulnerable and so recommended that they all testify via a CCTV connection so that they would not physically appear in court.

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READ | Paul Kennedy’s co-defendant in child sex ring case revealed in court

Since some of them suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, she also advised them to testify before an intermediary.

This was not only the case for those who are still minors.

One child, who was 9 years old when he was allegedly approached by Ackerman, is now 24.

Clark learned that he suffered from generalized anxiety disorder and would benefit from witnessing via a CCTV connection.

The trial was postponed early Tuesday because the power went out in the courtroom.

Clark will continue in court on Wednesday through the victim reports.


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