'Earlier sexual abuse' reduces compo claim
September 21, 2006 12:00
A TEENAGE girl who was raped by her stepfather had her compensation claim cut in half because a judge ruled part of herpsychological trauma was due to earlier sexual abuse.
The ruling, which will be reviewed next week in a landmark court of Appeal judgment, has outraged women's groups.
District Court Judge Clive Wall, QC, cut the girl's payout by 50 per cent whenhe ruled her psychological problems could also be put down to earlier repeated abuse she suffered.
The court was told the girl was 14 at the time of the rape, which happened five years ago next month.
It was alleged the rape was the culmination of years of abuse which began when she was 10.
Her stepfather was convicted of one count of rape and jailed for five years in the Bowen District Court in 2003.
The girl later applied for criminal compensation and in June this year Judge Wall awarded her $22,125.
He said the girl claimed in her statement to police that she had been abused by her stepfather over a number of years.
Judge Wall said the stepfather had not been charged with those offences, only with the rape.
Hesaid the amount of compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder and"adverse effects" which she later suffered should be reduced by 50 percent because it was impossible to "divorce" the psychological impact of the sexual abuse from the effects of the rape.
However, in the Court of Appeal yesterday, barrister Tony Kimmins, representing the girl, argued Judge Wall had erred in his reasoning and the compensation should be reset at $42,750.
Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivors Support Centre spokeswoman Heidi Bone said it would be "more than worrying" if the girl was not awarded the entire $42,750 incompensation.
"If they go ahead with this (reduced compensation) it is diminishing the severity of the crime," Ms Bone said.