With the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, we expect there will be a vast and wide ranging impact on many individuals from various institutions in regards to historical sexual offences and the issues revolving around them.
Apparently more than five thousand people are preparing to present their stories of sexual abuse to the Royal Commission, while others have registered interest and it is to be expected that over the course of the inquiry, many more will want to contribute their own accounts.
This will result in a multitude of allegations directed at individuals within educational institutions; residential care facilities; sporting clubs; child care centres; State government agencies and departments including child protection and the police force; detention centres; juvenile justice centres; and of course, will include religious organisations including the Catholic Church. The inquiry will retrospectively encompass decades of historical sexual abuse claims.
While the instigation of this Royal Commission is based on many sincere claims, the experience of the law is that not every allegation is true. This inquiry casts a very wide net. And human nature is all at once perverse and fallible. Accusations, in our experience, can be corrupted by the passing of time, the frailty of the human memory or driven by agenda.
One thing we know through our work is that people facing an allegation of sexual offences suffer extreme mental distress. Even if the claims are not substantiated. Even when they know the claims are not true. Unfortunately “innocent until proven guilty” is a concept of the justice system and wilts outside the confines of the Courts.
In short words: one allegation, life ruined.
Our understanding is that the Royal Commission is going to require Victorians to go to Sydney as it is cheaper than moving the Commission down here.
Now imagine the distress of an innocent person called to appear before the Commission and having to fly interstate to do so.
Those being named at the Royal Commission or anyone accused of a sexual offence needs to be properly advised. Immediately. They need to know there is help. There is hope.
Our recently produced brochure entitled, “Dealing with allegations of sexual assault” is now available online as a free download . This brochure is not light reading, but we think it is a great resource for anyone facing allegations of sexual assault (whether they are pleading guilty or not guilty). It covers:
- Fundamental Rights of the Accused
- The Position of the Accused
- Types of Sexual Offences
- Investigative Techniques
- The Sex Offender Registration Act
- Preparation of Defended Sex Offence Cases
- Appearance Before Royal Commissions
- Pleading Guilty to Sexual Offending
Anyone facing any allegation of rape, indecent assault, child sexual offences or supervisory offences should read this brochure. If you are the friend or relative of a person facing allegations, you should ensure they read this brochure without delay. Then contact a specialist criminal lawyer immediately and start getting advice.