Thursday, 24 February 2011

This 'does not feel like justice'

An extract from a talk given by a presenter at the AFMA conference in Melbourne last year:

It was 2006 and I was in Queensland on holidays when the police contacted me by mobile wanting to interview me. Two cousins had accused me of sexually molesting them, with the earliest incident supposedly having happened when I was fourteen years old, more than twenty years before the time of the accusation...

My previously peaceful and happy life was over, and from that point on not only my own life – but also the lives of all those who loved me and cared for me were thrown into turmoil.

After approximately 14 months of unbearable stress, I was formally charged. January 2008 was the committal hearing from which it was deemed that the case go to trial.

The trial went for five days, whereby the evidence given by my accusers was thoroughly examined by my counsel and found to lack substance.

For example, one claim made was that I was babysitting my cousin when an alleged offence occurred. This, despite the fact that at the time I was 14 years old, was living some 600km away, and also the accuser’s mother swore on the stand that I had never babysat her daughter. Still, my cousin was adamant that I was the perpetrator of the alleged crime.

The cost of this whole process – mentally, emotionally and financially – far outweighed the relief of having been acquitted of the charges.

I had watched my family being torn apart, my extended family alienated, we were left financially crippled from not one, but three trials and I was completely exhausted from dealing with the daily adversity of living with such accusations.

I am now trying to rebuild my life and to achieve some sort of peace. I have been helped to some extent by psychological counselling and by the support of a loving family. Still, I am left with a sense that a big injustice has been done to me and my family, and those who have caused it have not answered for it.

My accusers had no legal expenses, while I bore the costs of three trials and am still struggling to overcome the financial difficulties this has caused.

It does not feel like justice. 

Complete transcript in the February 2011 edition of the AFMA Bulletin.
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