Army sex ring's 'Jedi Council'
In a perverse game of show-and-tell, the group of army officers at the centre of an internet sex scandal circulated videos and photographs of naked women to challenge fellow "Jedi Council" members to try to bed them too.
Emails sent around within the internet sex ring sometimes included the victims' names, addresses and phone numbers - along with naked images of them - so that other members had the chance to try to "have sex with them", a source said.
Fairfax Media can also reveal that at least some members of the ring were elite special forces soldiers and some civilians were also involved. It is understood that employees of the big Defence contractor Thales are involved, though the company declined to comment on Friday.
The unsuspecting women were "picked up" in places such as airport lounges and bars and the men would then film them in sexual acts. In some cases the women were not aware they were being filmed.
The men shared footage and images accompanied by derogatory comments about their conquests, according to information confirmed by Defence sources.
Revelations about the sex ring emerged on Thursday when the Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison, announced three of the ringleaders had been stood down and a further 14 Defence Force personnel were under investigation in relation to a group of "demeaning, explicit and profane" emails that began in 2010.
It is understood many of the communications began with the words "Dear Jedi Council" and included long explanations of what had taken place. The women did not know they were the subject of the emails.
Of the 17 who form the main part of the sex ring, the most senior is a lieutenant-colonel, the sixth highest rank in the army.
Their group's name is believed to be a reference to "the force being with them", a line made famous by the Star Wars movies.
Victims in different towns across Australia were targeted and it is believed one of the women involved was a flight attendant.
Demeaning commentary would accompany the images and videos, including details such as the size and shape of the woman's breasts and a rating of the sexual experience.
Often the material was sent using Defence Force email systems.
General Morrison won plaudits for a steely YouTube video in which he warned that male soldiers who did not appreciate the role of women in the force should "get out" of the army.
"If you're not up to it, find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters."
Fairfax Media understands some of the people involved are employed by Thales, which supplies the army with communications and computer systems, munitions, weapons, and vehicles.
A Thales spokesman said: "As the matter is under investigation, there will be no comment from the company."
The Defence Force spent nine months investigating the allegations before asking the NSW Police to take over in June last year, sources have said.
Up to 90 other Defence employees were "on the periphery" of the affair, which General Morrison described as worse than the Skype scandal in 2011. A Defence Force cadet had been caught broadcasting himself having sex with a female cadet over Skype without her knowledge or consent.
A spokesman for NSW Police said Kings Cross local area command established Strike Force Civet last July to investigate the alleged exchange of offensive emails by Australia Defence Force personnel.
"The investigation into the activities of three ADF personnel has been finalised," he said. "A brief has been prepared and forwarded to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions."
A spokeswoman for the Commonwealth DPP said the brief had been received, and the office was "assessing the matters referred by the NSW Police in accordance with the prosecution policy of the Commonwealth".
Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James said the actions of the men involved in the ring did not reflect the broader military.
"They were calling themselves the Jedi Council but they were doing the exact opposite of what Jedis are supposed to do, thinking they were above normal ethical standards," he said.
Sydney Morning Herald