Decision On rape Case Imminent
THE long legal battle of ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark will come
to a new head tomorrow when a Victorian appeals court decides
whether two women have the right to bring a case against him for
rapes they allege he committed in the 1970s and 1980s.
The decision will determine whether Mr Clark faces a civil jury
in a damages case brought by the women, Joanne McGuinness and
Carol Anne Stingel.
The two women were yesterday said to be "nervous and anxious" about
the decision in what has become a test case for civil actions
involving statutes of limitation and allegations of traumatic
and insidious injury.
Mr Clark, who remains on full pay of $257,000 until July, when
the last vestiges of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Commission are wound up by the federal Government, and who will
receive severance pay of $70,000, said he had no comment.
The decision will be handed down in the old High Court building
A final appeal to the High Court in the already drawn-out affair
remains a possibility. Mr Clark has said he has already spent
hundreds of thousands of dollars preventing the case going to trial.
Mr Clark, who denies all allegations against him, has been
protesting his innocence since July 2000, when police confiscated
his passport and charged him with the rape of Ms McGuinness, a cousin, in
1981 when she was 16. In November 2000, a Warrnambool magistrate found
Mr Clark had no case to answer.
But in June 2001 The Age newspaper revealed allegations that Mr Clark had
raped four women in the 1970s and 1980s, including
Ms McGuinness and Ms Stingel.
In April 2003, Ms Stingel and Ms McGuinness brought a
damages case for rape against the embattled Aboriginal
leader in the Victorian County Court. Both women were
given leave to proceed outside the six-year statute of limitations.
In February 2004, Victorian County Court judge John
Hanlon found that Mr Clark led two pack rapes against
Ms Stingel. Judge Hanlon said he was satisfied Ms Stingel
had been raped six times in 1971 - the first two of
which were led by Mr Clark.
the Australian (11-5-2005)