Magistrate Richard Pithouse has been referred for investigation. Picture: Hamilton Spectator.
Magistrate Richard Pithouse has been referred for investigation. Picture: Hamilton Spectator.

Magistrate lashed over ‘victim-blaming’ rape comments

VICTORIA'S Attorney-­General has referred a controversial magistrate for investigation and scolded him over his suggestion a rape complainant had suffered "buyer's ­remorse".

Embattled magistrate ­Richard Pithouse has also been ­removed from the case.

A month ago, the Herald Sun revealed he had made questionable comments during a preliminary hearing into ­potential victim compensation for the woman, including ­telling her: "You can't profit from your own malfeasance."

Attorney-General Jill ­Hennessy said on Thursday: "It's clear these comments are not in line with community expectations and caused ­distress to sexual assault survivors.

"That's why I am referring this matter to the Judicial Commission for further ­investigation.

"While these matters are subject to investigation, it's not appropriate to comment ­further."

The woman at the centre of case, "Penny", told the Herald Sun last night that having Ms Hennessy call out the ­comments was a "step ­forward" in the battle to stamp out victim-blaming attitudes.

"I'm very happy that I've been heard," she said. "It's ­important that people in power are held accountable for ­inappropriate comments.

"It's good she agrees that (Mr Pithouse's) comments are not in line with society's ­expectations."

In an emotional letter this month, Penny wrote to Ms Hennessy with her concerns.

An online petition calling for Mr Pithouse to be stood down has gained thousands of signatures.

The Victims of Crime Tribunal exchange between the rape victim and magistrate Richard Pithouse.
The Victims of Crime Tribunal exchange between the rape victim and magistrate Richard Pithouse.

Penny, a city worker who is legally blind, alleged she had been raped by a man she had met at a Crown casino bar while on a night out drinking.

She had taken her case to a victims' tribunal in October, only to be subjected to comments later slammed by the then ­Victims of Crime Commissioner, Greg Davies, as "not just victim blaming, but ­victim bashing".

Mr Pithouse has previously suggested a domestic violence victim wanted to be bashed.

In another recent case, he ­ordered a perpetrator of ­violence to pay a $250 fine to the RSPCA ­instead of convicting the offender.

The Herald Sun's revelations of Mr Pithouse's latest ­remarks led to widespread outrage. But Chief Magistrate Peter Lauristen said on ­November 30 he felt it was an ­"inappropriate case" for him to exercise his power to suspend Mr Pithouse.

Another magistrate has since been appointed to ­preside over Penny's case.

 

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