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Why Do So Many Sex Cases 'Drop Out' Of System

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN Chief Justice John Doyle has called for an urgent inquiry on why so many reported sexual offences "drop out" of the system.
Giving evidence at Parliament's legislative review committee yesterday. Chief Justice Doyle said an investigation into the large disparity in reported offences and those that end up in court should be conducted as soon as possible.
"I think a really close inquiry at the very earliest stage would be well worth doing," he said "None of us really knows why so many are dropping out."
The committee has been investigating sexual assault since 2003 after calls from women's groups and sexual assault victims for a review of sex-attack laws.
An issues paper for the committee includes sexual assault data for 2002, which shows that of the 628 rapes recorded by police in SA. 108 were referred to the Magistrates Court and 47 were committed to higher courts. Only 19 guilty convictions were recorded.
Of the 725 indecent assaults recorded by police, 113 were referred to the Magistrates Court, 13 were committed to higher courts and 10 guilty verdicts were recorded. With unlawful sexual intercourse cases, 254 were recorded by police, 64 were referred to the magistrates court, 44 were committed to higher courts. There were 31 convictions.
After yesterday's committee bearing, committee member Liberal MP Angus Bedford said he endorsed Chief Justice Doyle's inquiry call.
"If victims can hang in there till it gets to court, the conviction rates will be much higher," he said.
"We've got to look at how we can give victims a greater level of confidence in the system. We've got to confront that head on."
Victim Support Service chief executive Michael Dawson said: "If an inquiry is a way to bring it to a head and to get something done. I'm very supportive.
"We know that there's a lot of victim blaming by the community. When they go to court, (victims) are required to talk about their sexual behaviour, their lifestyle behaviour and that leads people to make totally unwarranted judgments about victims.
"That very much leads to victim blaming."

AAP (2-6-2005)
Jemma Chapman




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The figures
Rape- 2002
  nbsp; eported by police: 628
  nbsp; Referred to Magistrates Court:108
  nbsp; Referred to a higher court: 47
  nbsp; Guilty convictions: 19
Indecent assaults- 2002
  nbsp; Reported by police: 725
  nbsp; Referred to Magistrates Court:113
  nbsp; Referred to a higher court:13
  nbsp; Guilty convictions: 10


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