Criticism of Australia’s 2DAY-FM for an on-air “lie detector” segment in which a 14-year-old girl disclosed that she had been raped two years earlier has come even from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The disclosure came under questioning by the girl’s mother, who had already known about the rape, although the show hosts did not.
As a result of the Wednesday stunt on “The Kyle and Jackie O Show,” police are now investigating the rape case, which apparently had never been reported to authorities. According to the Herald Sun newspaper, Prime Minister Rudd endorsed the police investigation and said what has happened is a “tragic situation for this young girl and she deserves all the support and counseling she needs.”
Other public officials have also lashed out at the Sydney station owned by Austereo, including Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who dismissed the station’s offer of counseling for the girl as a “Band-Aid approach to the dangerously irresponsible environment they should not have created in the first place.”
In their blog on the 2DAY-FM website, Kyle and Jackie O said they were completely blindsided by the rape disclosure.
“We have had the lie detector thing on regularly for about six years. It’s a semi-regular segment on the show. We checked with the mother beforehand, and went through all the questions they wanted asked. The mum hadn’t said anything about the rape. She was concerned that her daughter was on drugs or was sexually active. Like a lot of mothers worried about their kid, she just wanted to find out what was going on. She put her on and during the second question the girl said she had been raped when she was 12. We were stunned,” said Kyle Sandilands.
In the broadcast segment, the mother said in a recorded preliminary interview that she suspected that her daughter had had sex, knew that she had smoked marijuana and was concerned that she might be doing other drugs. As the live segment began, the daughter complained, “I’m scared. It’s not fair.” She first denied skipping school and the lie detector operator said she was not telling the truth. The mother then asked, “Have you had sex?” The girl paused and said, “I’ve already told you the story. Don’t smile at me, it’s not funny.” Another pause. “OK, um, I got raped when I was 12 years old.”
The broadcast then became a bit surreal as Sandilands tried to think of what to say and stupidly asked whether that was “the only experience you’ve had” and the mother said her question had meant any sex other than that. The mother said she’d only found out about the rape a couple of months earlier. “And yet you still asked me the question,” the daughter said. Jackie O finally gathered her wits, offered to make counseling available and brought the segment to a close.
The girl and her mother were not identified by name on the broadcast.
You can also read more about the public outrage in Australia in the story from the Herald Sun, Australia’s largest newspaper and a News Corporation property.
RBR/TVBR observation: We would consider it poor judgment for a radio show to hook up even a willing minor to a lie detector for an on-air broadcast – and in this case the girl was clearly unwilling and only cooperating under pressure from her mother. But it was the mother’s actions that were really outrageous, much more so than the radio hosts.