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Call for character reference crackdown after AFL fan's sexual abuse case



There are calls for more thorough checks on character references after a reference from a former fundraising manager contributed to a lighter sentence for Jeffrey "Joffa" Corfe in his sexual abuse case.

Jeremy Maxwell has told 9News he had no knowledge his reference would be used in court, saying he had written it many years before the Collingwood superfan pleaded guilty to a charge of sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16.

Corfe was last month spared jail time after sexually abusing a child in 2005.

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The 62-year-old admitted to sexually abusing the boy, who was 14 years old, at Corfe's home in Melbourne's north.

In sentencing last month, Judge Mullaly noted Maxwell had given the following reference.

"I regard Jeff as one of life's great characters and truly believe the world is a better place with him in it," Maxwell said in the reference.

But Maxwell said he was "shocked" to find that the reference was used.

"It is really shocking, and I don't get how it can happen," he said.

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There are now calls to impose stricter rules when it comes to character references, considering the weight that is put on them.

"Perhaps we do need to make sure that, when people are vouching for others or people are handing up material, it is as contemporary as possible," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Corfe's victim, Alex Case, told 9News in a statement that he was "shocked" but not surprised.

"I am concerned about how often this has happened and the impact it has had on sentencing in other cases," he said.

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