What is a Sexual Act in NSW?

Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

A senior Corrective Services NSW officer has been charged in the aftermath of an investigation that sought to undercover sexual acts allegedly performed before female colleagues over a six-year period at a correctional facility in the state’s Central Tablelands.

At the beginning of April 2021, detectives from the Robbery and Serious Crime Squad’s Corrective Services Investigation Unit established Strike Force Winrow, which looked into allegations of inappropriate conduct at a jail in Bathurst.

During the investigation, police were given accounts relating to sexual acts frequently being performed at the facility by a senior male correctional officer spanning the past six years.

This information led to extensive investigations, until the morning of Thursday 22 April when a 50-year-old man was arrested by Strike Force Winrow detectives in Orange.

He was taken to Orange Police Station and charged with eight counts of incite other to do sexual act with them without consent, two counts of common assault and five counts of incite aggravated indecency (victim under authority).

The man was granted bail and will face Orange Local Court on Monday 31 May 2021, where police will allege the man performed the sexual acts in front of five women – aged between 35 and 56 – throughout 2015 and 2021, while they were working at the correctional facility.

 

Police to Allege Man “Used His Position to Take Advantage of Female Employees” in Workplace For “His Own Sexual Gratification”

Addressing the arrest, Robbery and Serous Crime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Andrew Koutsoufis, emphasised the seriousness with which police take all reports of misconduct offences.

“Police and Corrective Services NSW have taken swift and appropriate action after commencing an investigation earlier this month,” Detective Superintendent Koutsoufis said.

“It will be alleged that this man used his position to take advantage of female employees in the workplace for his own sexual gratification.”

Detective Superintendent Koutsoufis also stressed the behaviour will not be tolerated in the community and that it is “totally unacceptable”.

“Every employee should feel safe and respected while carrying out their duties,” he said.

“If offences of this nature occur in any workplace, we encourage employees to notify police.”

Meanwhile, according to a Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) spokeswoman, the allegations were reported in late March.

The spokeswoman said the officer was immediately stood down and the matter was reported to police.

She continued that staff had been offered counselling and that CSNSW would do “everything” it could to assist the investigation.

The spokeswoman declined to add further comments while the matter was before the courts.

 

The Role of Correctional Officers in NSW

Communities and Justice NSW makes clear the role of Correctional Officers in NSW, indeed stating that they “are employed to supervise inmates being held in Correctional Facilities in NSW”, including prisons and court cell, while adding that their role is “essential to keep a safe and just NSW”.

Such responsibilities, the body advises, are “integral to the security” of the NSW Correctional system.

Additionally, it is acknowledged that Correctional Officers work within a demanding and interesting environment, and together, produce a close-knit team of workers who support each other in their day-to-day activities.

Correctional Officers are also “proud of the great work they do”, according to Communities and Justice NSW.

In NSW, it is an offence to commit a “sexual act” without the consent of another person, where a “sexual act” is understood as an act, other than sexual touching, that a reasonable person would deem sexual.

As per section 61KE of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), it is an offence for any person (the alleged offender), without the consent of another person (the alleged victim) to carry out a sexual act with or towards the alleged victim, or incite the alleged victim to carry out a sexual act with or towards the alleged offender.

Additionally, it is also an offence for the alleged offender, without the consent of the alleged victim, to incite a third person to carry out a sexual act with or towards the alleged victim, or incite the alleged victim to carry out a sexual act with or towards a third person.

In NSW, a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in jail or a fine of up to $5,500 is in place for any such offence.

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