A woman who was sexually assaulted as a teenager and was then pursued and harassed by her attacker for almost three years will receive more than $340,000 in damages.
In a decision last month and released last week, District Court Judge Felicity Davis said there was no dispute that the woman, now 23 and not named for legal reasons, had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. The woman launched legal action in 2009 seeking damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of earnings past and future, as well as aggravated damages.
The man, who was a family friend and neighbour of the girl, was jailed after pleading guilty in 2007 to eight charges of indecent dealing and one count of sexual penetration.
Judge Davis said the man was 47 at the time of the offences, which took place over six weeks in 2003 when the-then 14-year-old helped him clean his house after his wife fell ill. Over almost three years, from December 2003 to September 2006, the man sent her letters, emails, text messages, flowers and gifts on a weekly basis to her home and boarding school.
She said the woman described the continued harassment as being "hounded" and a "constant reminder of the sexual offending against her".
The girl wrote to the man in 2005 asking him to stop and towards the end of 2006, when she realised he was not going to, she saw a school counsellor and the matter was reported to police. It was submitted to the court the post-traumatic stress disorder meant the victim had lost the opportunity of becoming a teacher because she had planned and limited her work capacity.
Judge Davis found the woman would have gone on to achieve much better in her employment had she not been sexually assaulted and intimidated.
She found the woman was "deprived of what should have been a normal, happy adolescence and had changed from someone who was happy and confident to a person who lacks confidence and relies heavily on those close to her".The woman, who is now married and working as a sales co-ordinator, continued to suffer from anxiety, was extra vigilant and had a preoccupation with thoughts of abuse.
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