A landmark rape case involving a Victoria Police officer has been discontinued because “there were not reasonable prospects of conviction”. It was the first major case handled by the Australia-first Sexual Offences and Family Violence Unit, a dedicated taskforce established late last year to deal with family violence complaints against police. But it’s not off to a great start.
The Victorian senior constable was charged with one count of rape and another of sexual touching without consent in February. The alleged assaults were reported to police in 2021 and he resigned immediately after. Police said the alleged assault occurred while the officer was off-duty.
But it was revealed on Tuesday the case was discontinued in late August before it could proceed to trial.
“The decision was made on the basis that, having regard to the available evidence, there were not reasonable prospects of conviction on either charge,” an Office of Public Prosecutions spokesperson said.
“That conclusion was based on careful consideration of the evidence and having regard to the standard of proof applicable in criminal cases — beyond reasonable doubt.
“These decisions are never made lightly. In this particular case, the prosecution team consulted extensively with the Victoria Police informant and other members of Victoria Police.”
Victoria Police has not addressed the revelation but a spokesperson said the Sexual Offences and Family Violence Unit “will support victim-survivors regardless of the court outcome.”
The unit investigates cases that involve Victoria police staff who are alleged to have committed family violence or sexual assault.
It was a positive step to establish the unit because this issue has been the subject of scrutiny for some time.
The state’s Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission announced in September it would investigate inappropriate police responses to family violence over the next 12 months. The investigation was also meant to probe “predatory behaviour incidents” involving officers.
But basically right now is not a good time for the public to find out the unit’s first case was actually discontinued.
We’ll have to wait to see how the next one goes.