An Australian Defence Force cadet in Canberra accused of raping a fellow cadet while she was sleeping has been granted bail. Police allege Jack Toby Mitchell, 19, assaulted the 18-year-old woman in the early hours of Saturday morning after the pair shared a taxi back to the ADFA campus from Civic nightclub Mooseheads with a third male cadet.
The court heard the pair had known each other for four months and the woman had previously told Mr Mitchell she only wanted to be friends when he asked to begin a relationship.
The woman told police she was intoxicated and thought Mr Mitchell was taking her back to her room, but instead he took her back to his room and began kissing and touching her on his bed.
She allegedly told Mr Mitchell she “felt fuzzy” from the alcohol and turned away from him saying she wanted to sleep, but he began sexual intercourse.
The court heard she became uncomfortable and tried to push Mitchell away after telling him it was hurting, but he allegedly told her “it would be OK” and continued.
The Campbell man was arrested on Friday and appeared in court where he was formally charged with sexual intercourse without consent after the woman reported the incident to the officer in charge and police.
Mr Mitchell allegedly told police the woman had initiated the sexual contact after she pulled him towards his room when they were dropped off by the taxi.
He told police he asked the woman “do you want this?” and she had replied “yes” before the pair began having sex.
He said after 30 to 40 minutes they both decided to stop because they were “tired and drunk”.
Special Magistrate Maria Doogan granted Mr Mitchell bail, with conditions he did not contact, intimidate, harass, or assault his alleged victim, did not ask anyone else to do so, and not approach her within 100 metres.
The court heard ADFA would arrange for Mr Mitchell to be housed in alternative accommodation to keep him away from the woman.
The prosecution opposed bail claiming Mr Mitchell would interfere with evidence, “influence” the woman or exert pressure on her through friends or fellow cadets.
“Particularly in an environment such as ADFA people will be talking,” the prosector said. “Lots of opinions will be formed of his conduct in the situation.”
But his defence lawyer said there was “strong evidence” Mr Mitchell would not interfere with the investigation as he had not contacted the woman since Saturday night and the cadet would take his obligation to the court “very seriously”.
“He is someone with a chance to go further in life,” he said. “I can assure your honour I spoke to him in the cell downstairs and explained to him what’s at stake here, it’s his liberty.”
When granting Mr Mitchell bail over the “serious offence”, Ms Doogan said she took into account his age and lack of prior criminal history.
The matter will return to court on June 23.
Defence would not comment further while the matter remained before the court.
“However, updates on the progress of these matters will be provided when it is appropriate to do so,” a spokesman said.
Last year, 21-year-old ADFA cadet Harlan Agresti was found guilty of raping a fellow cadet in her quarters after a night out in Canberra.
The cadet is appealing the decision, arguing directions given to the jury were flawed and its final verdict was “unreasonable”.
The Australian Defence Force has been criticised for its treatment of women in the past, rocked by a 2011 Skype scandal in which a cadet secretly filmed himself having sex with another cadet and broadcast it to several of their colleagues.
Following the scandal, army chief David Morrison published a speech – written by co-Australian of the Year nominee and transgender advocate Cate MacGregor – on YouTube warning those who disrespected, demeaned or discriminated against women were unwelcome.
Lieutenant-General Morrison was named the 2016 Australian of the Year for his championship of women’s rights and diversity.
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