The West

A 20-year-old woman awarded more than $40,000 criminal injuries compensation after she was raped by her grandmother's boyfriend has launched an appeal against the decision.

The woman was sexually assaulted by her grandmother's 49-year-old partner in late 2007 when she was 15 years old.

The man pleaded guilty in May 2008 to six charges of indecently dealing with the girl, two charges of sexually penetrating her and one charge of attempted sexual penetration.

As well as claiming for compensation for psychological trauma suffered as a result of the incident, the woman's lawyers argued her mental and nervous shock injuries from the incident had interfered with her ability to complete school or study further.

A decision published this week reveals lawyers for the woman, who was awarded $41,496 compensation in December, had argued her claim for loss of earning capacity should have been assessed at $100,000.

They also argued her psychological injuries had decreased her motivation for education and prevented her from achieving her full potential at school and she had lost the opportunity to go to university or pursue other studies, which "interfered" with her work and earning capacity.

In an impact statement to the court, the woman said her pre-existing depression, low self-esteem and social anxiety worsened after she was sexually assaulted.

"The applicant describes she currently experiences poor memory and concentration span, disturbed sleep and panic attacks. She further describes she lacks trust in males, avoids male persons and is short tempered," the decision said.

Criminal Injuries Compensation assessor Laurene Dempsey accepted the woman had suffered a "substantial mental health impact" as a result of the offences committed against her, but she did not accept the lawyers' claims that the women's psychological injuries from the sexual assault alone prevented her from achieving her full potential at school.

"I am satisfied that the applicant, prior to the incident, was already a dysfunctional child most unlikely to complete year 10 or even further in her studies," she said.

Ms Dempsey refused to award the woman compensation for future medical expenses saying she had appeared unwilling to engage in therapy in the past and if she did wish to pursue therapy, it could be supplied to her for free.

Ms Dempsey ruled $40,000 was an appropriate compensation amount for the woman's "mental and nervous shock injuries, minor physical injuries and loss of earnings and earning capacity".

The West Australian

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