Eastgate was due to face a committal hearing in Sydney next month, followed by a trial in June.
Eastgate, real name Janice Wendy Eastgate Meyer, was last May charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice.
The charges relate to an incident involving an eleven-year-old girl named Carmen Rainer who, in 1985, told her mother that she had been sexually abused by her stepfather. As the family were Scientologists they sought help at the Org Building in Sydney.
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Carmen alleges Eastgate told her (remember she was only eleven-years-old at the time) not to tell police what had happened, or she and her brother would be taken away by social services. Carmen’s mother Phoebe alleges that Eastage told her to also deny the abuse to the police and to the Department of Community Services.
The alleged reason for this was to avoid bad publicity for the Church of Scientology.
Carmen’s stepfather Robert Kerr in 1999 turned himself in to police and admitted he indecently assaulted Carmen between the ages of seven and eleven.
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Today, eleven months after Eastgate was arrested and charged, the solicitor from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in New South Wales dropped the charges.
Incredibly, I’ve learned the reason for this is that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, ODPP, reportedly did not realise that the charges were not in existence at the time the alleged offence occurred in 1985.
I spoke today with Carmen Rainer who said she was given the impression that the authorities have no plans to find the ‘right’ charge for the alleged offences, and that they plan to simply drop the whole matter and ‘forget about it’.
I am at a loss to understand why this has happened.
After a brief and unrevealing telephone discussion with the DPP solicitor in this case, Lindy Coyle; followed by an equality fruitless conversation with their media office, I received this missive:
This matter was withdrawn because there was no reasonable prospect of conviction on any charge. The ODPP will not make any further comment.
Media Liaison and Communications
Office of The Director of Public Prosecutions NSW
I’m just sorry I don’t have more information about what has happened here. We are left to wonder … was this the result of a mistake? An oversight perhaps, or a long series of them? Or is something else at play here?
Questions that should be put to the NSW ODPP include:
Why did the prosecutor’s office realise only now, eleven months after charging Eastgate, that the charge was flawed?
Why did the Prosecutor not realise there was a problem when they added a second, identical charge in February 2012?
Why are new, correct charges not being laid?
How can this serious crime, if true, be left unpunished?
What message does this send to victims of child sex abuse struggling to come forward to the authorities?
Perhaps the ODPP has the answers.
Jan Eastgate and the Church of Scientology have always maintained the allegations were false and they must both today be celebrating the apparent end of this sordid awful story.
Today Eastgate was quoted saying “I have always maintained my innocence” and “this outcome means I can concentrate on my work to assist people in need of help both in Australia and overseas through the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.”
The fact remains that the allegations have not been tested in court. This is not an outcome - it is not a court decision - it is a complete withdrawal from the case by the DPP.
As it stands we now have Jan Eastgate’s word against the word of Carmen Rainer, her mother Phoebe, and former Scientologist Carmel Underwood, who claims to have witnessed Eastgate coaching Carmen to lie to the police.
After following this story for eighteen months, along with Lateline reporter Steve Canane at the ABC, (who broke this story), I am curious to know why this has happened. Are you?
The Director of Public Prosecutions today sought, and was granted, leave to withdraw two charges against Janice Meyer.
The decision to seek leave to withdraw the charges against Janice Meyer was made after a careful evaluation of the brief of evidence, in accordance with the Director of Public Prosecution's guidelines (which are available on our website).
That evaluation of the brief of evidence resulted in a determination that there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction for either the charges that Janice Meyer faced, or any other potential charges.
There will be no further comment regarding this decision.
This reporter is on Twitter at @BryanSeymour7