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Sex Workers Oppose 'Dangerous' Sex Offender Being Allowed To Visit Brothels

The Australian sex workers association is concerned that a "dangerous sex offender's" release from prison comes with permission for him to visit sex workers in a bid to reduce his chance of reoffending.

Edward William Latimer, 61, had been imprisoned indefinitely until a WA Supreme Court judge ruled on Tuesday he could be freed under a 10-year supervision order with 52 conditions including no alcohol or porn, and no access to sex workers without prior approval.

"Access to sex workers will not of itself resolve the issue of the respondent's ability to manage his sexual urges ... (but) the option for the respondent to engage in regular, albeit infrequent, sexual contact should serve as an additional protective factor," Justice Anthony Derrick said in his judgment.

Latimer can visit sex workers with permission. Photo: Getty Images.

Latimer was sentenced in 2005 after committing a string of sex offences that date back to the 1970s.  His crimes include a brutal sexual attack on a woman at a Perth train station, the attempted rape of an intoxicated man in a Northbridge park and numerous counts of indecent exposure.

He was released on a supervision order in 2014 but within months sexually propositioned two women he did not know, so he was again placed under a continuing detention order until now.

Sex Workers At Risk In Latimer's Company

Scarlett Alliance -- the Australian sex workers association-- deems Latimer's release a danger to the community.

Its CEO Jules Kim told 10 daily the ruling emphasises the lack of sex worker rights.

"Sex workers are also human beings and members of the community who should be entitled to the same protections as anyone else," Kim said in a statement.

"The judgement speaks to the restrictions necessary to protect the general public from Latimer, yet does not see sex workers as deserving of those same protections."

Kim also said the judgment, combined with the criminal nature of sex work in Western Australia, could mean sex workers may struggle to seek legal help if they are sexually assaulted while on shift.

Sex workers could be in danger if working with Latimer. Photo: Getty Images.

READ MORE: Sex Workers Are Being Forgotten By The #metoo Movement

"It is of even greater concern given that sex work is, for the most part, criminalised in Western Australia creating further barriers to sex workers being able to access justice or seek assistance from the police," Kim said.

In Western Australia sex work is largely governed by the Prostitution Act 2000. A smaller number of offences are also contained in the Criminal Code, the Health Act 1911 and the Liquor Control Act 1988.

The criminal laws in Western Australia formally prohibit most prostitution related activities, for example soliciting sex in public.

However, like the laws in many common law jurisdictions, the act of prostitution in itself is not an offence.

"There is a fundamental misconception of sex workers as undeserving of the same rights as everyone else. Unfortunately, the statements by the court justice reinforces these dangerous misconceptions."

READ MORE: Sex Work Is Real Work, So Let Me Pay Tax

WA Attorney-General Confident Latimer Will Be 'Closely Supervised'

WA Attorney-General John Quigley refused to intervene in the ruling, saying Latimer had not committed a sexual crime since 2003 and had been behind bars for years longer than his sentence.

"I'm not going to quibble with the judge's decision. I don't see anything in the judge's decision which is appellable," he told reporters.

"He's going to be closely supervised so that if he looks like re-offending ... they're going to collar him and put him back in."

WA Attorney General
WA Attorney-General John Quigley refused to intervene in the decision. Photo: AAP Images.

"If we tried to keep people in prison forever, beyond their imposed sentence, the High Court would strike the whole Act down as unconstitutional," Quigley said.

Western Australian Liberals Concerned About History Of Sexual Assaults

Opposition spokesman Nick Goiran said he was deeply concerned Latimer, who had a history of sexual assaults and willful exposure, had been approved for release.

"It's beggars belief that a judge can agree for a dangerous sex offender to access prostitution as a means to reduce the risk to the community," he told AAP on Wednesday.

Goiran said it was most disturbing that the judge found Latimer only had "a rudimentary understanding of the concept of consent".

Gorian said the decision to release Latimer is offensive to victims. Image: Getty Images.

"This decision is a kick in the guts to victims of sexual abuse. It sends all the wrong messages," Goiran said.

Justice Derrick determined Latimer was a "serious danger to the community" but said the risk could be managed in the community.

Goiran said that seemed like an "oxymoron" and if an offender was a serious danger they should not be released.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au