Can a historical sexual assault claim be defended?
In the current day and age anyone can find themselves charged with sexual offences. It doesn’t mean that they have happened, of course. But the powers that be require pretty much any allegation, no matter how unlikely or how long ago the incident occurred, be properly investigated.
This means at the very least that a police interview will occur. There may very well be no evidence aside from the word of the accuser. The recent case involving Cardinal George Pell involved a former choirboy making rape allegations against the Cardinal with no real evidence other than his word.
A jury proceeded to find Cardinal George Pell guilty of rape based on the word of a single person. The High Court ultimately exonerated the Cardinal, finding that it wasn’t possible for the Jury, properly instructed to make a the finding they did beyond reasonable doubt.
The High Court imposed some rationality in correcting the decision of the Jury, but to an accused, or to any rational thinking person, raises questions as to how one can properly defend historical sex matters at trial.
The usual approach is to demonstrate that the allegation was not possible. For example, if it is alleged that an incident happened in Melbourne in 1972, and an accused was in the USA at the time, well the allegation will be struck out by a court.
If it is not possible to demonstrate that the allegation wasn’t possible, then it will come down to a word on word contest. The person who is caught lying ,about anything, loses this contest.
For this reason, it is usually better to give a no comment interview and to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.