Sexual Acts in Public Offences in NSW


It is reported that 19-year-old Shameka Leeding and her 20-year-old partner Jake Quinn who accompanied her as support person were having public sex in a busy courtroom foyer.

Shameka fronted the Toowoomba Magistrates Court on 28 June this year for an unrelated case. Her boyfriend Jake attended with her as support person. It was approximately 9:40am when the two were seen on CCTV footage kissing. Not before long, the pair began sexual intercourse.

Shameka was seen to be lifting up her skirt while moving up and down on his lap in the seating area of the court room foyer. The seating area a main public waiting area of the courthouse.

It wasn’t until security approached the couple that they ceased what they were doing, resulting in Shameka alighting herself off Jake, while Jake trying to cover himself in the process.

Once security left, the Jake exposed his penis before moving it under her skirt as she sat back on his lap. The couple appeared to re-commence their sexual intercourse as Shameka resumed jumping up and down on his lap. This continued before the couple came to a stop again when approached by a court staff.

After the court staff left, the couple appeared to have a third round as Shameka continued moving up and down his lap. This time, security approached when Shameka stood up as Jake covered himself.

After being identified by the CCTV footage in the courthouse, the pair were each charged and issued with court notices to appear.

The couple who both pleaded guilty to indecent acts in public were sentenced to 60 hours of community service each, but each walked away without a criminal conviction.

In New South Wales, the conduct of committing sexual acts in public is a criminal offence carrying up to 18 months’ imprisonment with a conviction, prescribed by section 61KE of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Moreover, this offence also carries a penalty fine of up to $5,500.

The offence of a sexual act carries even heavier criminal penalties if committed in circumstances of aggravation. This offence is referred to as the offence of a sexual act in circumstances of aggravation and carries up to 3 years imprisonment and/or $5,500 fine.

Firstly, a “sexual act” is behaviour a reasonable person considers sexual. To determine what behaviour amounts to “sexual”, the law guides us and says the following factors are to be considered:

  • The circumstances it occurs in,
  • Any aspects of the act that cause it to be seen as sexual,
  • Whether it was done for sexual gratification or arousal,
  • The part of the body involved or used in the act.

According to law, if faced with a sexual act charge, to be guilty, the prosecution will need to first prove the following elements of the crime beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. You intentionally committed an act to the victim, and
  2. The victim did not consent, and
  3. You were aware that the victim did not consent, and
  4. A reasonable person would consider the alleged act as sexual.

Common defences to it include, if the act was done for genuine medical or hygienic purposes, involuntary act, incidental or accidental touch.

Click here for more on what amounts to knowing whether the alleged victim consents according to NSW law.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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