Dennis Nona is an Australian artist who raped a 12-year-old girl and left her pregnant, but he claims his upbringing is at fault. The crime occurred in 1996, but he was also eventually found guilty of crimes committed against the girl’s sister. In December of 2014, Nona was convicted of sexual assault and was sent to prison for nine years.
Now, Nona is appealing his prison sentence, claiming that he didn’t know that raping a child was wrong because of his indigenous heritage and his upbringing on Badu Island, where polygamy was still practiced during his childhood.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, after a groom raped his wife’s best friend, the victim has broken her silence.
The artwork of Dennis Nona has been seen hanging in major Australian art galleries, and includes many paintings, prints, and sculptures. His work has been known to sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars and has been featured around the world.
Despite his crimes, art historian Frances Commings described Nona as a “prodigious talent” with an “absolute passion” for his culture.
“I’m very supportive of him,” Ms. Cummings said, according to the Daily Telegraph. “He is a genius of an artist and the things he committed were when he was a very young man.”
Almost 20-years ago, Dennis Nona raped a 12-year-old girl and also sexually assaulted her 14-year-old sister. The younger girl realized she was pregnant and had an abortion, but did not reveal the identity of the rapist until a DNA test was taken. Based upon this evidence, Nona was sentenced to five years in prison, which gave him a total of nine years in prison based upon the four year sentence for crimes against the girl’s sister.
But the Australian artist is challenging his convictions and sentence by claiming he was never taught that sex with children was wrong during his upbringing on the indigenous islands of the Torres Strait islands, a remote group of islands north of Australia. Chief Justice Helen Murrell says that Nona suffered a difficult childhood on the remote Badu Island, where polygamy and flogging were considered acceptable practices.
“The bright line that exists in Canberra between appropriate and inappropriate treatment of children did not exist when he was raised on Badu Island,” she said, according to ABC. “None of this excuses the offenders conduct, but it does provide a context.”
Nona claims he does not remember having sex with the girls, and Professor Warwick Brewer, who had assessed Nona, said the man’s “visual, spatial and verbal skills appear to have declined with his significant use of alcohol.” The Chief Justice also said that Nona has apparently managed to rehabilitate himself despite committing the crime of rape.
“Not only has he not reoffended but he has embarked on a positive path making a contribution to Indigenous culture and Australian culture,” Murrell said.
Dennis Nona’s appeal will next be heard in court on October 7, 2015. He is not eligible for parole until 2017.
[Photo via Gaye Gerard/Getty Images]