Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Politician's rape charge dismissed

Lack of evidence, witnesses and an unreliable complainant. There are no details, but it sounds as if the prosecution may have had an axe to grind as well.

Politician's rape charge Dismissed.

VICTORIAN state MP Theo Theophanous will consider his political future over the weekend after being cleared of a rape charge.

In dismissing the charge against the former cabinet minister, Magistrate Peter Reardon said little credence could be placed on the unreliable evidence of the complainant.

He said the case lacked credibility and he questioned the objectivity of investigators. It had been alleged Mr Theophanous, 61, raped a woman on a couch at parliament house in September 1998.

After being told by Mr Reardon he would not stand trial following a 15-day committal hearing, Mr Theophanous sobbed and hugged family members.

The former industry minister thanked his wife, whom he said "never stopped believing in me ... and knows who I am".

But he admitted his reputation would be tarnished by the accusations.

"It is impossible for one's reputation not to be damaged in these circumstances," he said.

He described the decision as "landmark" and said he would consider his future.

"I don't know where I go from here. I am going to take the weekend to think about it," he said.

"I will try to talk to the Premier, if I can, and I will consider what I and my family want to do in the future.

"I think we have already made a very significant contribution in this state."

Mr Theophanous resigned from Cabinet after he was charged late last year but he remains a member of the Upper House and has nominated for Labor pre-selection.

He described the case as an "emotional rollercoaster".

"It is such a traumatic experience of not knowing where your life is going to go," he said. Mr Reardon said the complainant might believe in her own mind that she was raped, but the evidence did not show she was. "

She was an entirely unreliable witness," Mr Reardon said. "

I can place little, if any credence on her allegation of rape in this matter. "

I have concluded in this particular case that the prosecution case is not sustainable. It is inherently weak, lacks credibility, reliability and truthfulness."

The Office of Public Prosecutions can elect to directly present Mr Theophanous to trial if they believe Mr Reardon made the decision in error, but no decision had been made. Prosecutor Michele Williams SC had alleged Mr Theophanous forcefully raped the woman after the pair shared a coffee.

In a statement to the court, the complaint described feeling "trapped" as she was raped.

But Mr Theophanous' lawyer Robert Richter QC said the case was "weak" and a disservice to real rape victims. "

In my submission, this investigation and prosecution does a great disservice to all victims of rape and there are many, many real victims of rape," Mr Richter said. "

What has happened here is no basis for destroying the lives of families and reputation of a minister of the Crown as he then was."

Link: http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25828780-421,00.html