Judge overruled on reduced rape compo
PETER HANSEN. The Sunday Mail. Brisbane, Qld.:Nov 19, 2006. p. 41
THE State Court of Appeal has reversed the decision of a north Queensland judge
who halved a compensation award to a teenage girl raped by her stepfather,
because he had sexually abused her previously.
Women's groups were outraged by the original ruling, based on the fact the
Crown had elected to prosecute only the rape charge and not charge the man over
earlier lesser sex abuse.
Townsville District Court judge Clive Wall, QC, in September cut the girl's
criminal compensation payout by 50 per cent, ruling that part of her
psychological problems could be put down to the earlier abuse she suffered.
The court was told she was 14 at the time of the rape. 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 in 2003 for five
Judge Wall said that the girl had told police she had been abused by her
stepfather over a number of years but the man had not been convicted of these
offences, only the rape.
He said the amount of compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder and
adverse effects she later suffered should be reduced by 50 per cent because it
was impossible to divorce the psychological impact of the sexual abuse from the
effects of the rape.
The Court of Appeal's Justice Cate Holmes, said there had been a miscarriage in
the exercise of the judge's discretion.
The uncharged acts were part of a course of similar and reprehensible conduct
of which the rape was the culmination.
Also (overlooked) was the fact that the child was powerless, both in the course
of what happened to her at the hands of the man, and also in what seemed to
have been a "relatively arbitrary decision" not to charge the stepfather with
the earlier abuse.
The court on Friday reinstated the full amount of compensation, $42,750.
for a listing of alternate locations.