By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
A man has been charged over an alleged sexual act that took place in front of an underage girl on a bus in New South Wales’ Hunter region last month.
The incident is said to have occurred around 1:45pm on 24 June 2020 when a 16-year-old schoolgirl boarded a bus at Rotary Park, Kurri Kurri, travelling in the direction of Heddon Greta.
According to a statement from NSW Police Force, as the young girl made her way onto the bus, a man also boarded the vehicle and sat directly behind her.
When the bus took off, the man arched over the seat and allegedly displayed a sexual image from his mobile phone in front of the girl.
The girl disembarked the bus and made her way home before officers from Hunter Valley Police District were informed of the incident.
They immediately commenced an investigation in search of the man.
Detectives Arrest 49-Year-Old Man Over Sexual Act Incident
Following a spate of inquiries, at around 4pm on 3 July, detectives arrested a 49-year-old man in the town of Weston.
The man was taken to Cessnock Police Station and charged with carrying out a sexual act with another without consent.
He was released on strict conditional bail and is due to front Kurri Kurri Local Court on 11 August.
Another Sexual Act Incident Surfaces Involving Man on Sydney Train
Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident, a 42-year-old man is also due to front court later this month after being accused of committing a sexual act with a woman without consent on a train in Sydney’s south.
Police allege on 26 June, around 6:30am, a woman in her mid-20s was sitting on a train at Wolli Creek Railway Station when she caught sight of a man in the same carriage, committing a sexual act.
The woman reported the scene to the police, effecting officers from Cronulla Police Transport Command to commence an investigation.
In the afternoon of 2 July, around 4:40pm, police made contact with a 42-year-old man at Miranda Railway Station.
The man was arrested and taken to Sutherland Police Station, where he was charged with carrying out a sexual act with another without consent and behaving in an offensive manner.
He was granted strict conditional bail and is due to face Sutherland Local Court on 30 July.
Surge in Sexual Offences on Public Transport in New South Wales
Last year, an increase in sexual offences on public transport and in particular railway premises were reported in New South Wales, with Penrith named as one of the worst suburbs for offences.
Many commuters gave accounts of feeling increasingly perturbed about travelling, especially when alone at night.
In fact, according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, by August 2019, eight people reported experiencing a sexual offence on trains in Penrith alone.
In response, NSW Police Force reassured the public that proactive patrols were being conducted regularly to ensure the public’s safety.
“It is believed an increase in sexual offences can be attributed to an increased population and commuters on the network, as well as increased reporting, which is part of an ongoing effort to instil confidence in victims to come forward,” NSW Police Force informed.
“There has also been an increase in police apprehending those responsible for these offences and placing them before the courts.”
The spokesperson also emphasised the Police Transport Command’s commitment to investigating and preventing these sexual assaults and acts of indecency on public transport.
The law prescribed up to 18-months imprisonment or up to $5,500 fine, or both to anyone guilty of committing a sexual act without consent in NSW.
Where a sexual act is committing to a child aged 10 – 15 years, the law prescribes up to two-years imprisonment, according to section 66DD Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
The law prescribes even heavier penalties for committing a sexual act in circumstances of aggravation in NSW.
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