Tracy unleashes on ACA porn 'embarassment'
A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw has unloaded on one of the program's former reporters, calling his previous involvement in the show an "embarrassment".
The current affairs program included a brief snippet of former senior reporter Ben McCormack, who pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in 2017.
As a reporter, McCormack was arguably best known for managing to track down Hughes in Singapore while he was facing allegations of child sex offences and getting him to address them on camera.
In 2010, child actress Sarah Monahan, who also starred on Hey Dad with Hughes, alleged she had been inappropriately touched by the actor during their time on the show.
In May 2014, Hughes was sentenced to 10 years, nine months in prison after being found guilty of numerous sexual assault charges. He is eligible for parole in April.
Before crossing to Monahan to get her opinion on her abuser being released in a few months, Grimshaw addressed McCormack's appearance in the story.
"Before we speak with Sarah, let me address a point we've never shied away from," Grimshaw said.
"You may have noticed our former reporter Ben McCormack in that story.
"McCormack left this show in disgrace two years ago after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.
"His involvement many years before in our Hey Dad investigation has caused us distress and embarrassment.
"But that interview in Singapore remains the only time Hughes has publicly addressed the allegations against him, so it's an important historical record.
"We wish we'd sent someone else but of course we didn't know then what we know now."
At the end of her interview with Monahan, Grimshaw addressed it again, apologising to the former child actress.
"Before I finish, Sarah, I want to talk to you something that's deeply uncomfortable for us," she said.
"Our former reporter Ben McCormack was featured, we felt unavoidably, in (tonight's) story.
"It was a source of discomfort for us, we thought about it a lot. Are you comfortable with him appearing in that story?"
"I mean, he was part of it so I guess he kind of has to be, you can't take it away," Monahan replied.
"That's true. I've never had an opportunity to apologise to you publicly for introducing him to you back then," Grimshaw said.
"Of course, we had no idea. Everyone is brilliant in hindsight and we had no idea what would ultimately transpire but I do apologise to you. Have you processed that?"
Monahan said McCormack's conviction was "surreal" because of how "invested" the former TV reporter had been in the story.
"A part of me almost felt guilt for a while because I didn't know if he had been that way and that's why he was so invested in the story or if he did so many of these stories, it changed something in him and almost made him that way," Monahan said.
Monahan said the lesson she had learnt from McCormack's conviction was that people involved in the criminal world are "so well hidden".
"They really are, it was a great lesson to us," Grimshaw said.
McCormack, 44, pleaded guilty to child porn offences in 2017 but avoided jail over his involvement in the paedophile ring.
The conviction cost the formerly well-regarded A Current Affair reporter his career.
After pleading guilty to two counts of using a carriage service to transmit child porn, McCormack was put on a three-year good behaviour bond and fined $1000.
During his trial, the court heard McCormack had spoken with an adult male between 2015 and 2017 "fantasising about young male persons" but no child abuse images were sent between the two.
The judge described McCormack's offending at the lower end of the scale.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.