Sex assault victim ‘too afraid to be outside alone’: Court
A woman who was sexually assaulted in her sleep by her best friend's partner has spoken of the betrayal and isolation she felt following the attack.
The woman, then 29, who cannot be named for legal reasons, faced her attacker in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Thursday.
She took the witness stand and read a powerful victim impact statement describing how she once was active and motivated but was now often too afraid to be outside alone.
"I panic every time a male comes near that I don't know, or an older man approaches," she said.
The man, now 38, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful and indecent treatment and was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment to be served as an intensive correction order.
Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook told the court the man, his girlfriend and the woman went to bed about 3am in March 2020 after a night drinking at a birthday party when the woman woke to find the man beside her.
He said the man, who was then 36, had the woman's hand and was "forcing her to masturbate him".
"She felt his right hand under her underwear touching her, but his hand wasn't moving," he said.
"The defendant said to the complainant 'I've always wanted this, (name withheld)."
Mr Cook said the man thought the complainant turning over in her sleep was a sign of sexual interest.
"That's totally inappropriate behaviour … to think a sleeping woman rolling over (was showing signs of interest)," he said.
He said the woman leapt out of bed and told her best friend what happened.
The man made admissions to police but lied about some aspects of the offence, before being charged and released on bail, the court heard.
The woman told the court the assault had torn apart her friend group and left her feeling betrayed, isolated and withdrawn.
She said the assault had impacted her psychologically, physically and financially and she has been attending counselling, trauma healing and alternative healing sessions for the past year.
She finished her statement by saying she hoped she could help at least one other person by being brave enough to speak up about her experience.
Defence lawyer Martin Longhurst said his client accepted it was a "very serious" offence.
"He told police he believed the complainant turned around in an advance," he said.
"(It's) accepted that if there was any rolling over it was involuntary by the complainant.
"His first response was to go out and acknowledge he made a mistake."
He said the man had a history of making poor decisions after drinking alcohol.
"The circumstances are not an excuse for the conduct," he said.
"He perceived things wrong on the night, he'd had too much to drink, he was intoxicated, he was in bed.
"He grossly misread what was happening."
The man had engaged his doctor to create a mental health plan and provided a $2000 cheque to the victim.*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.