John Raymond Zimmerman, the former tour manager of Australian band The Getaway Plan, has been sentenced to 16 years jail at the County Court in Melbourne today. A minimum parole term of 12 years has been set and he will now be registered on the sex offenders list for life. Zimmerman showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down.
There were many of his victims and the victims’ families present for the sentencing. A Victoria Police representative comforted the families as the Judge read out details of the rapes. Victims and parents held hands as the judge read out the sentence for each charge.
Judge Richard Maidment pointed out that if he hadn’t plead guilty he would have been sentenced to 20 years with minimum 14. The Judge wanted to make an example out of Zimmerman without crushing his life completely as he is only 26 years of age. The Judge stated that Zimmerman has shown some remorse after his second arrest, but during the hearing he ‘didn’t indicate physically that he was remorseful’.
‘Your offending reminds us that the illusion of confidentiality, privacy and safety … that interaction with strangers over the internet is beguiling as it is false…You pursued your victims cunningly, mercilessly and relentlessly without regard for the harm you were inflicting on them’, the Judge told Zimmerman.
The judge made repeated reference to the fact many of the sexual acts had been without the use of a condom. Zimmerman, therefore, wantonly exposed these girls to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
Zimmerman plead guilty to 87 charges including rape and possessing child pornography; his crimes involved 55 underage girls. He accepted a plea deal which cut the federal and state charges from over 200.
Zimmerman exploited his position as manager of The Getaway Plan to lure young girls into his trap. He would offer backstage passes and merchandise to The Getaway Plan’s concerts in exchange for sexual favours. He would trawl through the group’s MySpace page looking for attractive young girls to target. He would encourage young girls to send him naked pictures online then threaten to show the pictures to their parents if they refused to meet up and have sex with him.
Zimmerman once stated that pursuing young girls was ‘part of promotion for the band’.
At Zimmerman’s pre-sentence his lawyer, Julie Sutherland, told the court that he became addicted to the attention from The Getaway Plan’s teenage female fans.
“He became addicted to the cult of young female adulation, but more importantly, he became addicted to the cult of celebrity,” she said.
He was first arrested in 2009 and questioned by police who proceeded to shut his Facebook page down. But that was no deterrent, he opened a new Facebook page and continued offending until the police arrested him again in March 2010.
Zimmerman promised one of his victims tickets to The Getaway Plan’s final tour before they broke up in 2009 (The band reformed in 2011). When she met Zimmerman to collect the tickets he had promised, he took her out of school, sexually penetrated her, ejaculated all over her uniform, then dropped her back at the school, yelling ‘slut’ as he drove off in his van.
Zimmerman will be incarcerated at Ararat Prison, which houses a large proportion of sex offenders.