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Pithouse accepts comments to rape victim were wrong

A MAGISTRATE and former Hamilton lawyer has accepted it was wrong to tell a court a victim of rape had suffered “buyer’s remorse”.

A Judicial Commission of Victoria review in April last year found Richard Pithouse had “infringed the standards generally expected of a judicial officer” over comments he made to a victim of rape during a hearing in the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal in October 2018.

During the hearing, Mr Pithouse told the victim she had “put herself in that position” by being intoxicated and had only reported the rape because she suffered “buyer’s remorse”.

The review found Mr Pithouse’s comments “could reasonably be construed as victim-blaming in that (he) considered that the applicant bore some responsibility for the rape because she was so intoxicated”.

Following the investigation, the commission referred Mr Pithouse to the chief magistrate, Lisa Hannan, and recommended he receive counselling in “appropriate judicial conduct, including the need to exercise sensitivity, courtesy and respect in the courtroom towards all court users, including victims of crime”.

The commission revealed this week the matter had been closed after Mr Pithouse had received personal counselling from Ms Hannan and a retired County Court judge “on the need to exercise sensitivity, courtesy and respect towards all court users including victim-survivors of family violence”.

It said the retired judge had spent more than 20 hours working with and coaching Mr Pithouse, which included listening to random recordings of his court hearing to ensure “necessary standards were met and maintained”.

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