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Ben Waters says ‘endless stress’ of work for Labor MP Nat Cook led to ‘escape’ into child abuse material


A former SA Labor staffer who committed “repugnant” child abuse offences says his offending began amid “endless stress” and “exploitation” as an adviser for the opposition, court documents have revealed.

Benjamin John Waters pleaded guilty in January 2021 to accessing and transmitting child abuse material using a carriage service, as well as two counts of possessing child exploitation material, including images and videos of children under the age of 14, in March 2021.

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WARNING: This story contains graphic content that readers may find distressing.

The 39-year-old worked as a staffer for Labor Member for Hurtle Vale Nat Cook, who is the opposition spokeswoman for human services.

Waters was expelled from the Labor Party in March after he was arrested by the South Australian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team.

In a 15-page affidavit lodged with the District Court, Waters said his offending began while he was “under an incredible amount of stress which largely came from the nature of my work”.

“The political lifestyle is incredibly stressful,” he wrote in his statement which the court released to ABC News.

“I worked for the opposition and I was the sole advisor for human services in this state, one of the most difficult portfolios to navigate.

“The endless stress, unpaid hours of work, incredibly late nights at Parliament House with excessive use of alcohol each night took its toll on me.

SA Labor human services Nat Cook addresses the media.
Opposition Human Services Spokeswoman Nat Cook has been in parliament since 2014.(ABC News)

He wrote that his personal time “became monopolised by work” and his nights and weekends were “stripped away”.

But Waters has denied allegations made in the District Court yesterday that he used a work bathroom to “relieve himself” after viewing child exploitation material.

Sexual chats an ‘escape’ from reality

In his affidavit, he said he was not a “pervert, depraved or a paedophile” but viewed and possessed child exploitation material to “understand why an adult would want to have a sexual relationship” with a child.

“None of those things is true. I do not identify with any of them. That is not who I am,” he wrote.

“What I did was repugnant, exploitative and illegal.

“I look at it now with great shame but I did not offend because of a sexual interest in children.

“Chatting to someone about their sexual proclivities was not only something I used as an escape from my anxious reality but also as a way of trying to understand the people and patterns that made no sense to me.”

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