Premier to intervene after alleged victim reveals brutal legal system forced her to abandon rape trial
Premier to intervene after alleged victim reveals "brutal" legal system forced her to abandon rape trial

Victoria's premier and attorney general will meet with a teenage rape victim to discuss how to make the court system less traumatic.

The family of a girl who was 14 when she was raped in a Geelong park by three men in November 2015 wants the government to provide better support for child victims during trials.

She abandoned her case before her alleged attackers could face trial, fearing the trauma of being cross-examined and the distress involved in the public airing of now-suppressed details from earlier hearings.

"The media reported on extraordinary detail and that was harrowing. She was re-victimised to the point where she couldn't go to school," her mother told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews said he would seek to meet the girl and her family to discuss possible changes to the system. Photo: AAP

An article published by Fairfax Media on Tuesday recounted the girl's traumatic experience navigating the legal system in the wake of the alleged attack.

It said she and her family elected to abandon a trial, fearing it would bring more pain to the young girl as she underwent examination and cross examination by lawyers.

"Everything I said would be scrutinised. I would be cross-examined by three different lawyers trying to get something out of me," the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told Fairfax Media.

A psychologist had told her the "brutal" trial process would likely re-traumatise her, despite her "stoic" efforts to co-operate with police and prosecutors.

"It's one of the things that upsets us the most. We're articulate, educated and tenacious and had a legal friend helping us," her father told The Age.

"What about people who don't have those resources who are faced with something like this?

"Everyone should be able to easily navigate the legal system. Everyone should feel it is worth the effort of reporting and going through the process."

The girl and her family, however, praised police and health workers for their professional and sympathetic approach to the case.

The girl's mother also suggested such cases be heard by a panel of judges, instead of juries, to avoid unconscious prejudice and put the focus more on the law.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he and Attorney General Martin Pakula would meet the family, possibly as soon as this week.

The girl abandoned the trial of her alleged attackers, fearing the legal process would be too "brutal". Photo: Stock

"If there are things we can change, if there are learnings that we can glean from the tragedy of this case, then we will make those changes," he told reporters.

Mr Pakula said child and sex offence victims can already give evidence by video link.

But they still have to be cross-examined and Mr Pakula said it would be hard to envision a system where a defendant could not test evidence.

He also was wary of the idea of more suppression orders.

"However as I say, I'd be more than happy to meet with the family and ascertain exactly what elements of the reporting caused distress and see whether or not there are options for reform," he said.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy says the coalition would give "in principle" support to reforms.

AAP

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