Sexual Touching Offence in New South Wales

Sahar Adatia.


A man from Dover Heights in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has been charged by Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad detectives over the alleged sexual touching of a five-year-old girl in a Bondi Junction shop.

According to a statement from NSW Police, on Friday 4 June 2021, detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad received reports a young female had been sexually touched by a man at a store on Oxford Street and commenced an investigation.

Following inquiries, investigators attended the shop and at 3.45pm on the same day, arrested a 58-year-old Dover Heights man within the confines of the store.

The man was taken to Waverley police station where detectives charged him with 11 counts of intentionally sexually touching a child under 10 years of age.

The following day, he faced Parramatta Court where upon making a local court bail application, he was refused bail.

The man was given notice to appear at Waverley Local Court later in the month.

According to NSW law, “sexual touching” – previously called indecent assault – refers to a person touching another person with any part of the body or with anything else, or through anything, including anything worn by the person doing the touching or by the person being touched, in circumstances where a reasonable person would consider the touching to be sexual.

In NSW, sexual touching is an offence prescribed by section 61KC of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in jail.

However, when the victim is under 10 years of age, as per section 66DA of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), this criminal offence attracts a maximum penalty of 16 years in jail.

An offence of sexual touching of a child under 10 years of age, as stated in section 66DA, takes place when any person intentionally:

– sexually touches a child who is under the age of 10 years, or

– incites a child who is under the age of 10 years to sexually touch the person, or

– incites a child who is under the age of 10 years to sexually touch another person, or

– incites another person to sexually touch a child who is under the age of 10 years. 

How the Offence of Sexual Touching Came to Replace the Offence of Indecent Assault

In December 2018, the offence of sexual touching was introduced into the Crimes Act 1900 in NSW which came about as a part of a bundle of reforms recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse.

The offence of sexual touching was designed to replace that of indecent assault, with the intention being that sexual touching defined more specifically the type of conduct that is unlawful when dealing with non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature with another person.

The Role of the NSW Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad in Child Abuse

The NSW Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad serves to investigate sexual and physical abuse of children as well as cases of extreme neglect of children.

The body is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate such matters against children and even adults, while some of its overarching objectives include to “investigate sex crimes that are protracted, complex, serial and serious in nature; investigate sexual abuse, serious physical abuse or extreme neglect of children under 16; identify crime trends and develop operational strategies, programs and policies; and maintain the child protection register in accordance with legislative & policy requirements”.

To realise these objectives, the Squad comprises several teams, including:

  • Child Abuse & Sex Crimes Investigation Teams
  • Child Abuse Units
  • Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU)
  • Child Protection Registry (CPR)
  • Extended Supervision Order Investigation Team
    Intelligence Unit

It should be noted that NSW Police encourages anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or to use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page (avoiding social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter), with assurance that any information provided is treated with complete confidentiality.

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