Newlywed cop avoids jail for abusing girl

Police officer Conor McCurley was required to deliver a public apology to a woman he sexually offended against as a child. Picture: NCA Newswire / Nicki Connolly

A police officer took away a young girl’s trust and innocence after a years-long period of sexual abuse, a court has been told.

Conor McCurley, 26, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, where he accepted responsibility for the offending.

In an emotional impact statement to the court, the woman, now in her early 20s, said her entire life changed as a result of Mr McCurley’s actions.

“I was left to hold the disgusting secret,” she said.

“I started to feel like I was the problem... I felt like I was losing control of my life.”

Mr McCurley avoided conviction and was placed on diversion. Picture: NCA Newswire / Nicki Connolly

The court was told the woman confronted Mr McCurley years after the abuse ended, with the First Constable complaining he had been “painted in a horrible light”.

“It was a young ignorant boy’s mistake,” he responded to her via text message.

But the woman told the court what he described as a “mistake made me feel like it had cost most of my life”.

“I have been called vengeful and spiteful for seeking justice,” she said, her voice breaking.

“You’re taking a young man’s dream away, they say, yet I feel like my childhood was taken away.”

Mr McCurley sat behind his lawyer clutching a ream of paper, his wife's arm draped across his back.

The court was told he was suspended from Victoria Police without pay after internal investigators charged him in August last year – just weeks before his wedding.

The sexual offending occurred when Mr McCurley was a teenager and before he joined Victoria Police.

The junior police officer was required to give a public apology. Picture NCA NewsWire / Aaron Francis

The case was initially set down for a committal hearing this week to determine if Mr McCurley should face trial after lawyer Caroline Salter last year said he denied the allegations.

But on Tuesday morning prosecutor Matthew Fisher rose to his feet to say the case “had resolved”.

He told the court both the prosecution and defence agreed the case was suitable for diversion, where a low-risk offender can avoid the criminal justice system by accepting responsibility for their actions.

“At first blush a member of the public may say it’s outrageous for it to be dealt with in this way,” he said.

“But we say there are powerful factors at play in reaching this position.”

Mr Fisher said both the woman and a senior crown prosecutor had agreed diversion was the right course of action.

Mr McCurley was charged with the offences just weeks before his marriage. Picture NCA NewsWire / Aaron Francis
Conor McCurley, 26, was charged weeks out from his Yarra Valley wedding.
Conor McCurley, 26, was charged weeks out from his Yarra Valley wedding.

After hearing from both parties, Magistrate Malcolm Thomas agreed, saying despite the serious offences he was of the view it was “appropriate to grant diversion”.

“In my view this allows (the complainant’s) voice to be heard, gives her agency and forces Mr McCurley to acknowledge his actions publicly,” he said.

Mr Thomas said a “powerful factor” in his decision was the woman’s support for diversion and for her to avoid the “deeply traumatic” experience of giving evidence at trial.

“It is an unfortunate feature of the system that requires complainants to describe in great detail... often the most painful memories in their life,” he said.

As part of the diversion, Mr McCauley was required to give a public apology, pay $7,500 in compensation, donate $2,500 to a charity of her choosing and be of good behaviour for a year.

Standing in the witness box on Tuesday afternoon, Mr McCurley kept his head low as he said he was “deeply sorry”.

“I know what I have done has caused irreversible damage,” he said.

“I want you to know I fully acknowledge my behaviour and how it made you feel.”

Requiring Mr McCurley to stand before the court, Mr Thomas described his behaviour toward the woman as “absolutely disgusting”.

“You should feel a great sense of shame for the things you did and you should carry that shame.”