The Case Against Aster
It is vitally important in reviewing the allegations against John Aster to understand that they have been remarkably fluid over the years. Each time he produces evidence to exonerate himself of an allegation, Team Troll will simply shift the goalposts of the allegations to twist them into something new. Using the dynamic lie technique means that Aster cannot ever win and the allegations against him will always continue to morph, growing increasingly more outrageous each time. Nevertheless, we can take an impartial look into the allegations that exist at the current time.
Even the most hurried of searches for John Aster on the internet will bring up a plethora of websites and videos with often conflicting and/or confusing information about him. Despite all that there is to read about John, there are really only three questions that need to be answered:
- Is it true, as his detractors claim, that John Aster is a "convicted pedophile"?
- Is it true that Aster is a "convicted rapist"?
- Is it true that he "plead guilty to downloading 15,000 child porn images"?
If the answer to the above questions is 'Yes', and Aster's guilt is clear and obvious, then one should have little sympathy for him. If however the answer is 'No', then Michelle Stewart, Melanie Coutts, Pete Geary, Geornette James, Jody Ashton and John Hans Anderson (collectively 'Team Troll') along with a host of others who have taken part in the vilification of Aster for the last nine years, ought rightly to pay a hefty price for a deliberate, serious, and sustained attempt to destroy an innocent man's life.
And so the hunt for information began. Try as I might, I failed to find any evidence for the first two of these claims - they appeared to pop right up out of nowhere. When asked, the men responsible for much of the distribution of the claims were unable to point me in the direction of any evidence of the claims. Thus, herein are my conclusions about them and the basis for those conclusions.
The claim that John is a convicted pedophile can be easily proven or disproven. Pete Geary has maintained for almost ten years that John Aster was the 39 year old Arana Hills (Brisbane) man with alleged links to a child pornography network who was reported in the media as having been convicted of sharing images of the rape of a Russian girl aged 8. The story was reported at News.com.au on August 7, 2009. To this day, and as recently as April 2018, Geary has propagated the spread of this information via the internet and through various video and social media channels. The problem with this claim is that Geary knows it to be false. Don't be mistaken about what I just said - Pete Geary knows this information is not true. He made a wild assumption when the information first came to his attention, and then has refused to back down from his initial public accusation about John Aster ever since. How do we know he knows it isn't true? Simple. The story at News.com.au named the Arana Hills offender as "Charles Andrew Milne, 39, of Arana Hills". It wasn't John George Aster. Even if Geary hadn't read the article himself (although we know he did), he was told by others in his circle that Aster was not the offender. Tina Byrnes told him herself - and here's a screenshot for that. Here's the rest of the conversation, and the reason we know Geary knows the accusation to be a lie. He quotes the article! So for almost ten years (to date), Pete Geary has been knowingly accusing an innocent man.
Whether or not John Aster is a "convicted rapist" also stands or falls on the facts - or rather the lack thereof. There has never been any evidence at all that John Aster has raped anyone, let alone been convicted of it. The allegations made by Michaela Hill will be discussed on a page elsewhere on this site, but rest assured not only is there no evidence of her claim - the truth is even wilder! There has never been any evidence provided in support of the accusation from Pete Geary and John Anderson that Aster was a convicted rapist. Given #TeamTroll's propensity for tellling lies, and the clean Police record, the rapist allegation can be safely debunked.
It is a simple enough matter to determine if John Aster has been convicted of any crimes. A National Police Certificate is a document that lists an individual's disclosable court outcomes sourced from the databases of all Australian police jurisdictions across the states. Certain convictions, such as spent or juvenile convictions, may not be disclosed on a National Police Certificate in accordance with the legislation and policies of the various police jurisdictions, but most past convictions will show up. Disclosable court outcomes include charges and court convictions (including the associated penalties and sentences), findings of guilt with no conviction (known as a 'non-conviction' or 'diversion'), court appearances, court orders including good behaviour bonds, matters waiting for a court hearing, and traffic offences. An acquittal will not appear on a police check nor will any record appear if a jury was unable to reach a verdict. Generally, traffic offences are not criminal offences and will not appear on a police check. If you have had to appear in a court, however, regardless of how minor the charge could have been and you were found guilty, it will likely show up on the Queensland police check.
On 21 January 2011, two years after the beginning of the rumour that John Aster had convictions for sex offences, he obtained such a Police Certificate at Brisbane. That certificate verified that John George Aster had no disclosable court outcomes (i.e. no convictions, no non-convictions, no court orders, nothing waiting for a hearing, and no traffic offences).
Questions over the authenticity of the Police Certificate
There have been suggestions that Aster forged the National Police Certificate document and it wasn't real, however Mark Winter (a former carer) came forward to advise that he attended the Ferny Grove Police Station in Brisbane with Aster when it was requested and that he had seen and personally held the document. It is signed by a Police officer who was based at Ferny Grove, and anyone querying the authenticity of the document is free to contact Ferny Grove to check with that officer.
Once Aster made the Police Certificate public, #TeamTroll then altered the accusation to say that the guilty plea in relation to "downloading child pornography" resulted in a non-conviction. However, you should bear in mind that a non-conviction relates only to sentencing, not to the offenders criminal history and records. A non-conviction would still show up on the Police Certificate. Whether a sentence is made with or without conviction, the offender will still have a criminal record. This is because a finding of guilt has been made against the offender. The Police Certificate, as noted above, would still show a finding of guilt with a non-conviction. You should also remember that usually, a non-conviction is only available for offences on the lower end of the scale. It seems logical then that if there was a guilty plea, it would have to be regarded as a 'non-disclosable outcome' in the criminal history to not appear on the Police Certificate. #TeamTroll alleges that it does not appear because John Aster has friends in Police. That is simply not true, and no evidence exists to suggest that it is.
The third allegation of 'Team Troll' is that John Aster plead guilty to downloading 15,000 child pornography images in 2000, and this was possibly the hardest of the three allegations to get to the bottom of. If this is true then surely somewhere out there would be evidence of a conviction. After all, these are child sex offences or objectionable material offences. They don't just disappear, do they? There was clearly going to have to be a bit of logical reasoning to drilling down into this allegation, and the first thing to do was to isolate exactly what was being said. I listened to John Anderson's S.T.O.L.E.N. video with Pete Geary to eventually isolate this statement: "John Aster...plead guilty to downloading 15,000 child porn images...". The individual components of the statement are several:
- That John plead guilty
- That he plead guilty to downloading objectionable material (images)
- That he plead guilty to downloading 15,000 images.
I have never seen any direct evidence for the basis of this allegation if it does exist - but then a lot of what is written about Aster is as confusing as the concept of Schrödinger's cat to the uninitiated. In simple terms, Schrödinger stated that if you place a cat and something that could kill the cat in a box and sealed it, you would not know if the cat was dead or alive until you opened the box, so that until the box was opened, the cat was in a sense both "dead and alive". This is used to represent how scientific theory works. No one knows if any scientific theory is right or wrong until said theory can be tested and proved.
The same is true of the John Aster story. There have been a number of people who have been firmly in the Anderson camp over the years who have also looked for the evidence of the allegation that Aster downloaded 15,000 images of child pornography, but have been unable to find it. Most notable among them are Robin Sherman and Cory Sem, both having been very close friends to Anderson and Catherine Stephens during this saga. Both of them have said that they couldn't find any reliable evidence to suggest that the allegation was true. All stories about this allegation send the reader into a crazy journey around the internet, but eventually lead nowhere.
The Burden of Proof
So if nothing has ever been produced as irrefutable and legitimate proof that John Aster was guilty of downloading child porn, we only have the wild allegations of #TeamTroll and nothing more. Where then do we start? I could not help but recall the 'no disclosable outcomes' from the National Police Certificate mentioned above, and I noted to myself that anyone convicted of crimes relating to child sex offences generally has serious restrictions placed upon them thereafter. Obviously, jail being one. Why, if there was a guilty plea, was there no apparent record?
Because we live in a society where the legal maxim is "innocent until proven guilty" (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11), the burden of proof for these allegations must lie with the accuser. Therefore, technically speaking, I don't need to disprove these allegations. I need go no further than Michelle Stewart, Melanie Coutts, Pete Geary, Jody Ashton and John Anderson and obtain the evidence offered by the accusers. Or so I thought. As it turns out, none of them have any. They are all relying upon a cycle of lie-upon-hearsay that seems to have been started by Michelle Stewart and then legitimised by her good friend Melanie Coutts in her blog as she raged against fathers in the Family Law Reform debates that were prevalent at the time.
The 'Admission' Video Evidence
Anyone who has actually looked into this case will have come across the recorded phone call between Michelle Stewart and John Aster. According to Pete Geary's evidence in a Magistrate's Court hearing in July 2011, Michelle was the person who first said that Aster had confessed to her that he had a conviction for downloading child pornography. She apparently then posted it to her Facebook profile wall, and the rest, as they say, is history. Geary also said that Michelle admitted to the rest of #TeamTroll a year later that she had lied. In the meantime of course, the accusation had already made the rounds of the internet hundreds of times. Pedophile hunters around the globe were on the scent of fresh meat and John Aster was already a target.
The so-called admission recording was made by Michelle when she realised that she was in the spotlight for making up such an horrific story about Aster. It is published around the internet under deceptive titles indicating that it is an admission of guilt, and it is such an appalling recording that most people will never sit and listen through it. But as a result of an independant investigation into John Hans Anderson's harassment of over 250 people on the back of this allegation about John Aster, that recording has now been fully transcribed. The 'proof' is debunked. There was no admission of downloading child porn. In fact, the recording clearly has a very angry John Aster telling Michelle she got her story all wrong. An archived recording and transcript of the phone call is maintained at www.stolen.news.
The Screenshot Evidence
Melanie Coutts was a rampant feminist who had convictions herself for domestic violence and had lost custody of her son, Cairo. She liked to believe that she was a big player in the Australian anti-father movement. By today's standards, she's a lightweight. Melanie posted in her blog and on Facebook under the pseudonym of Samantha Gratwick. On Facebook, she made a post that she had "sighted evidence that points towards Mr Aster being charged for having over 1500 images of child abuse in his possession by his own omissions [sic]." The 'evidence' she was referring to was a screenshot of a Facebook conversation that purported to be with John Aster, and Gratwick's own Facebook post was likely just a plug for her now-defunct blog, Australian Shared Parenting Law Debate and a defence for Michelle Stewart. I am no stranger to the works of Melanie Coutts. I have studied her every move for over two years as one of a team of investigators when she mercilessly trolled a New South Wales woman, calling her a domestic violence abuser excuser. Melanie's blogs are plentiful, varied, caustic, and all created under fake names and profiles. There were two things that struck me immediately about Melanie's statement: firstly, that she had only seen evidence that merely "pointed towards" Aster having made such an admission, and secondly that she did not have direct evidence of Aster having actually downloaded anything himself. Her evidence in support of her comments (as per screenshot) is not an admission of downloading porn per se - merely that it was found on his computer. Sound like semantics? Perhaps, but the presumption of innocence demands we pay attention to the difference. Additionally, one of the first things you learn about Melanie Coutts is that she is nothing if not very careful when she lies. She did not say that she had seen evidence of Aster making an admission. What she meant with her comment was that Aster had allegedly plead guilty when images of child porn had been found on a computer belonging to him.
Imposter Accounts, and Evidence
Aster says the profile depicted in the 'Pedobusters' screenshot wasn't even him. It was an imposter account. (Go ahead and search for your own name on Facebook - many of you might be surprised at how many blank accounts there are with a name exactly like yours!) At the time of writing this, there are 36 accounts on Facebook with the name "John Aster" that all have no profile picture. Most of those will be imposter accounts that have been used by people targetting Aster. This one, according to John Anderson, was created by none other than Troll Zero - Michelle Stewart.
Imposter accounts are easy to set up. Find your target, grab their profile picture and create a conversation. Screenshot the conversation, then delete the profile picture so that the profile itself is now irrelevant and untraceable to the screenshot. If you forget to delete the profile altogether it doesn't really matter. There's no evidence you did this. It's an old trick, but one that we have been aware of for years. For this very reason, screenshot evidence is no longer considered irrefutable proof of anything. If you visited the Stolen.news webpage listed above, you will have noticed that much of the evidence being archived is in video format, and it shows the active url's and hover identifications on each page. This is how we now capture information.
How many images?
The question of the images on the computer extends beyond just where they were and what they were. There is also a question around the more minor detail of how many there were. There is no evidence for Melanie Coutts' figure of 1,500 and there is certainly no evidence for the rest of #TeamTroll's 15,000. These figures are plucked right out of thin air.
So, what's John's version of the story? He denies that he was responsible for downloading the images that were found on the computer of the business he owned, and confirms that he has no convictions (which is also confirmed independently by the Police Certificate). He maintains complete silence in relation to all other questioning, which I can understand given the last ten years of abuse he has suffered through. So let's do a quick summation of the questions and their answers:
- Is it true, as his detractors claim, that John Aster is a "convicted pedophile"? - MYTH BUSTED - It's not true.
- Is it true that Aster is a "convicted rapist"? - MYTH BUSTED - It's not true.
- Is it true that he "plead guilty to downloading 15,000 child porn images"? - in three parts, namely:
- That John plead guilty - It's true that John plead guilty to something, but nevertheless he has not been convicted of any criminal act.
- That he plead guilty to downloading objectionable material (images) - MYTH BUSTED - It's not true.
- That he plead guilty to downloading 15,000 images - MYTH BUSTED - It's not true.
Herein lies the unfettered truth. We can safely say in relation to Geary's allegations that John has no convictions for pedophilia, rape, or downloading child pornography. Split off from the emotive and argumentative overabundance of internet commentary by self-appointed Facebook 'experts' and the members of #TeamTroll who have an agenda of their own in such matters, the facts of the allegations against John Aster are actually surprisingly simple to comprehend. They are the exaggerations and insinuations (and outright lies!) of a core few, spread faster and further than a virulent strain of the 'flu by an unsuspecting crowd of ignorant carriers. #TeamTroll is discussed on other pages on this site, and elsewhere on the internet.
"#TeamTroll owes their target an apology. So do a lot of other people. This investigation has uncovered irrefutable proof that the 10-year-long criminal harassment and cyberstalking spree targeting an innocent Brisbane, Australia man was based on a lie. A fabrication. A 'made-up' accusation."