Woman raped at psych hospital
Woman 'raped' at psych hospital

A 63-year-old female patient at a Perth psychiatric hospital was allegedly raped by a fellow patient and then kept on the same ward as him after the attack, legal documents have revealed.

The Weekend West
understands hospital staff walked in on the woman being sexually assaulted by the male patient in a locked ward on April 24, after which the woman needed urgent treatment.

Despite the woman being left in a mute and catatonic state by the attack, authorities kept her on the same ward as the man with one-on-one supervision.

The Department of Health declined to comment on the case, citing confidentiality.

But details were revealed after the State Administrative Tribunal held an emergency hearing to determine guardianship of the woman, who was deemed mentally unfit to consent to an intimate medical examination after the incident. The hospital involved has not been revealed publicly.

Debora Colvin, head of mental health advocacy group the Council of Official Visitors, said the case highlighted the issue of sexual safety of patients in all WA's psychiatric hospitals.

"There is an issue with sexual safety on some wards and the council has recently written (to the department) raising concerns," Ms Colvin said.

She said she was aware of at least one other recent case where a male patient had allegedly sexually assaulted a female patient.

Sandra Boulter, principal solicitor for WA's Mental Health Law Centre, said they had long advocated the introduction of unmonitored CCTV cameras in locked wards of psychiatric hospitals.

"Without evidence of the assault from behind closed doors it is hard to establish beyond reasonable doubt what happened or to have enough to go to the police with," Ms Boulter said.

The woman had been involuntarily admitted to the hospital because of a major depressive episode.

Days into her treatment another involuntary patient - described as an "aggressive indigenous man with a mild intellectual impairment and brain damage" - was found in the woman's room having sex with her.

"The treating team suspected (her) to be the victim of a sexual assault," the SAT hearing was told. No record of a report to WA police was available.

The West Australian

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