THE man who once dubbed Gympie "Helltown," accusing it of a "dark and sinister" culture of illicit sex, murder and drug use, has been found guilty of indecently treating a girl under 12.
High-profile criminologist Paul Wilson, 75, quoted statistics over a police region area that extended up to 130km away to ridicule Gympie in an article published in the August 1997 issue of Australian Penthouse magazine.
A Brisbane District Court jury took just three hours to reach a guilty verdict.
Wilson's victim told the court during his trial they were naked in bed in his house when he tapped his penis, which he called Percy, against her vagina.
He also sexually assaulted the girl after playing a blindfolded game of hide and seek with her and another girl.returned its guilty verdict on Wednesday after about three hours of deliberation, The Courier-Mail reported.
He will be sentenced on Thursday.
Prof Wilson's "Helltown" article prompted a community rebellion, with sports teams and a band taking the name and one resident writing a song ridiculing Wilson.
As The Gympie Times now editor Shelley Strachan reported in a front page story on July 9, 1997, Wilson's article depicted Gympie as "the most undesirable place to live in all of Australia, full of hypocrisy, sexual violence, fear, drugs, murder, incest, pack rape, economic stagnation and rabid right-wing gun fanatics."
He claimed in his article that "fathers who rape their daughters are let off with a warning."
Such was the lingering stigma it created that some young Gympie people have even recently reported being embarrassed to say where they come from when they go elsewhere to study or work; many say they are from the Sunshine Coast.
An editorial on July 9 did not deny that these problems exist, but pointed out they were not uniquye to Gympie, especially as many of the figures related to areas many kilometres away.
When Wilson was charged two years ago, then Gympie police district inspector Veronica Kane said the Gympie police district, from which the figures were gathered, included Cherbourg, Murgon, Blackbutt, Nanango, Kingaroy, Proston, Wondai, Kumbia, Tin Can Bay, Rainbow Beach, Imbil, Goomeri and Kilkivan and involved populations not living in Gympie.
He also included figures from neaby areas outside the district.
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