CRY FOR HELP

IF YOU’RE GROPED, COPS NEED YOU TO ...

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - CRIME RE­PORTER

IF A man gropes you or in­de­cently as­saults you in a pub­lic place, you have to in­stantly scream and draw at­ten­tion — or he will prob­a­bly get away with it.

This is the warn­ing from po­lice af­ter the case of a young woman who told po­lice she was groped, then punched when she com­plained. Her at­tacker was con­victed of hit­ting her but an in­de­cent as­sault charge was dropped due to a lack of wit­nesses.

Sex Crimes Squad Com­man­der Linda Howlett said women should im­me­di­ately alert peo­ple around them, to cre­ate wit­nesses and give po­lice a bet­ter chance of pros­e­cut­ing.

Lilly Per­rott told The Sun­day Tele­graph about the in­ci­dent at the Newtown Fes­ti­val last year. She had been en­joy­ing a night out with her boyfriend when she was al­legedly groped by a drunk stranger.

“We were just about to leave when I felt this hand go up the back of my dress and grab me on the (but­tocks),” Ms Per­rott, 24, said.

“I turned around and said: ‘What do you think you’re do­ing, you can’t touch women like that’.

“I’d al­ready stopped talk­ing and had just started to turn my head to walk away. That’s when I felt a mas­sive blow to my face.”

Her nose and eye socket were frac­tured. A 27-year-old man was ar­rested shortly after­wards in front of the Newtown Po­lice Sta­tion and sev­eral peo­ple tes­ti­fied in court that they had witnessed him punch Ms Per­rott in the face — but they had not seen him grope Ms Per­rott.

The court was told of the grop­ing al­le­ga­tions dur­ing his as­sault trial.

Fol­low­ing his as­sault con­vic­tion last week, Ms Per­rott posted an im­age on In­sta­gram of her bruised and swollen face along with a mes­sage of de­fi­ance, which went vi­ral and re­ceived more than 60,000 likes.

“Don’t ever try grab­bing or as­sault­ing a woman be­cause we’ll grab you by your metaphor­i­cal balls and squeeze you right back twice as hard,” the post read.

Ms Per­rott said she wanted to tell her story to en­cour­age other women to speak out against un­wanted sex­ual con­tact and vi­o­lence, re­gard­less of the cir­cum­stances.

“I was over­whelmed by the re­sponse my post had,” she said. “To have that blow up on the in­ter­net was huge but it was also heart­break­ing be­cause it just made it so much more clear to me that I am one in a mil­lion who ac­tu­ally got jus­tice.

“A lot of men are pretty ig­no­rant about what they can or can’t do when it comes to re­spect­ing women. I hope other women can find the sup­port and use the le­gal sys­tem to help them speak up.”

De­tec­tive Su­per­in­ten­dent Howlett said any­one touched in­ap­pro­pri­ately in pub­lic or other­wise should “re­move them­selves from the sit­u­a­tion” and im­me­di­ately no­tify se­cu­rity, venue staff or po­lice.

“There is no ex­cuse for this type of be­hav­iour and it won’t be tol­er­ated at any time,” Det-Supt Howlett said.

“Many peo­ple aren’t aware that any form of un­wanted sex­ual con­tact is sex­ual vi­o­lence and it’s a crime. The key word is un­wanted; it can in­clude touch­ing through to sex­ual as­sault.

“Our pri­or­ity is al­ways the health and well­be­ing of vic­tims, but it’s only when we know what’s hap­pen­ing that we can help.”

As­sault vic­tim Lilly Per­rott.

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