Wolf Creek Star Charged with Sexual Assault

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John Jarratt

Australian actor John Jarrett is best known for his starring role in the film Wolf Creek, in which he plays a serial killer who kidnaps and tortures three backpackers in the outback.

The 66-year old was publicly accused in November last year of sexually assaulting a female housemate in 1975, while living with his wife Rosa and three others in a “big, old high-set house” on Daintrey Street in Randwick, Sydney.

Mr Jarratt’s accuser, who has asked not to be named, told the media at the time that,

“[w]e were all young, living in the house… it was one of those households where everyone was straight out of NIDA. I was doing sculpture at Randwick TAFE in the evenings”.

She claims the then 24-year old entered her bedroom while she slept and sexually assaulted her, and made further advances several months later during a car trip from Sydney to Catherine Hill Bay, which she rejected.

Jarratt’s accuser says she felt strong enough to make a formal complaint after a former Hey Dad! actor came forward with allegations against the show’s star, convicted child sex offender Robert Hughes.

“What changed my mind was seeing Sarah Monahan’s [story] play out… so it made it easier for me to come forward”, the complainant stated.

Mr Jarratt was charged yesterday after a police investigation and will appear before Waverley Local Court on 10 October 2018.

It should be noted all that is required to charge a person with a criminal offence in our state is for police to have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ of a crime, which can be as little as an uncorroborated historical complaint, and there is no limitation period for ‘indictable’ offences, which means people can be charged decades after an alleged event.

It is also important to bear in mind that Mr Jarratt is to be presumed innocent until and unless he found guilty in a court of law.

Sexual Assault in NSW

Sexual assault is an offence under section 61I of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.

It is defined as where a person “has sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of the other person and who knows that the other person does not consent to the sexual intercourse”.

What is sexual intercourse?

‘Sexual intercourse’ is defined by section 61H of the Act as:

“(a) sexual connection occasioned by the penetration to any extent of the genitalia (including a surgically constructed vagina) of a female person or the anus of any person by:

(i) any part of the body of another person, or

(ii) any object manipulated by another person,

except where the penetration is carried out for proper medical purposes, or

(b) sexual connection occasioned by the introduction of any part of the penis of a person into the mouth of another person, or

(c) cunnilingus, or

(d) the continuation of sexual intercourse…”

What is the meaning of consent?

The issue of ‘consent’ has a controversial history, and there are currently proposals to change its definition to make it easier for people to be convicted of sexual assault.

However, the current definition is contained in section 61HE of the Act, which provides that consent is considered to have been given where a person “freely and voluntarily agrees to the sexual intercourse.”

The first requirement to establish a lack of consent is that the complainant did not consent.

The second is that the defendant knew the complainant did not consent.

This second requirement is established if the prosecution is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  • knew the complainant was not consenting, or
  • was reckless as to whether the complainant was consenting, or
  • had no reasonable grounds to believe the complainant was consenting.

In making such a finding, the court must have regard to all of the circumstances of the case including any steps taken by the defendant to ascertain whether the complainant was consenting, but it must not consider any self-induced intoxication by the defendant.

In addition to this, the law provides that a person cannot consent to sexual intercourse where he or she:

  • does not have the capacity to consent due to their age or cognitive incapacity, or
  • does not have the opportunity to consent as they are unconscious or asleep, or
  • consents because of threats of force or terror, or
  • is unlawfully detained.

Furthermore, the law stipulates that a person does not consent if under a mistaken belief that:

  • he or she is married to the defendant, or
  • that the sexual intercourse is for health or hygienic purposes.

The law also provides that the grounds on which it may be established that a complainant does not consent to sexual intercourse include where he or she:

  • was substantially affected by drugs or alcohol,
  • was subjected to intimidatory or coercive conduct, or another threat, that did not involve force,
  • was taken advantage of through an abuse of authority or trust.

The law additionally makes it explicitly clear that a complainant who does not offer physical resistance is not necessarily consenting.

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Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 25 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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