Sex abuse royal commission: Prosecutor defends using question of 12-year-old’s breasts in legal advice in Scott Volkers case

Updated 10 hours 41 minutes ago

A senior NSW prosecutor has defended using the question of whether 12-year-old girls have breasts to back up her finding that there was little chance former Olympic swimming coach Scott Volkers would be convicted of sex abuse charges.

In 2002 Volkers was charged with a range of sexual abuse offences relating to three young female swimmers – Julie Gilbert, Kylie Rogers and Simone Boyce – but those charges were later dropped.

A royal commission into child sex abuse is currently examining how sports bodies and top prosecutors handled the allegations.

Queensland Police reopened the case against Mr Volkers in December 2002.

In December 2003, Queensland‘s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) sought the advice of the NSW DPP as to whether the new brief of evidence supporting the allegations had reasonable prospects of conviction.

The NSW DPP, Nicholas Cowdery QC, tasked deputy senior crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC with preparing the advice.

In her advice, Ms Cunneen questioned whether the charges against Mr Volkers had a reasonable chance of success because it was legitimate to ask – following Ms Gilbert’s assertions that Mr Volkers had massaged her breasts – whether 12-year-old swimmers even had breasts.

At the royal commission on Thursday, Ms Cunneen said that was still a valid question for a jury to consider.

“If a defence counsel could raise a doubt that there was any palpable breast tissue, through the clothing of course, then we’d be in trouble trying to say that she had breasts,” she said.

On Tuesday, Ms Gilbert told the ABC’s 7.30 program Ms Cunneen’s questions regarding her allegations were deeply hurtful.

Advice based on whether jury would accept evidence: Cunneen

The counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness SC, also asked Ms Cunneen whether it was fair to say she does not resile from her original advice to the Queensland DPP regarding any conviction being unlikely.

“I take it from the terms of [your] statement Ms Cunneen that you don’t resile in any way from the advice you gave in 2004 in relation to Mr Volkers?” she said.

Ms Cunneen answered that she stands by the advice.

Scott Volkers

“Bearing in mind it was 2004 and that maybe [there are] some considerations in relation to juries being more amenable in 2014,” she said.

“We were probably only two-thirds of the way through the evolution, in terms of public knowledge and acceptance of child sexual assault cases then.

“But no, I don’t resile from the advice at all.”

She told the commission the credibility of the three alleged abuse victims was not in question, rather she was questioning whether a jury would accept their evidence.

“Sexual assaults are harder to prove than murders and robberies because it so often comes down to one word against another,” she said.

“The judge would tell [the jury] ‘probably is not enough, the gravest suspicion is not enough, you have to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that that happened’.”

Volkers was exempt from holding blue card: inquiry

Earlier, the commission heard Mr Volkers was exempt from holding a blue card in Queensland, despite the fact his application was rejected.

He applied for the blue card – which is needed for working with children – along with about 60 other employees from the Queensland Academy of Sport in mid-2008.

The royal commission heard Mr Volkers’ application was the only one to be issued with a negative notice and his application for a blue card was rejected.

The director of Queensland’s blue card system, Michelle Miller, told the inquiry the recommendation to reject Mr Volkers’ application was handed down before it was decided he was exempt from the requirement to hold a blue card because he was a government employee.

On Wednesday, Swimming Queensland chief executive Kevin Hasemann agreed to review Mr Volkers’ status as a life member of the organisation and a Hall of Famer.

Mr Hasemann admitted to the commission he did not investigate the allegations against Mr Volkers before employing him.

The hearing continues.

5 thoughts on “Sex abuse royal commission: Prosecutor defends using question of 12-year-old’s breasts in legal advice in Scott Volkers case

  1. Wonder if this top criminal prosecutor SC barrister , if was her as the victim touched up on her breasts ,or the lack of them as she said, – or if you had been someone close to her or a young daughter or niece or relative touched up by a pervert pedo grub like Volkers, she would still think it trivial, to lay charges and drop them so quickly , on a legal technicality or whatever on the high profile sports offender, just because of lack breasts big enough to grope! She dropped the charges from privileged legal jargon in her position of power to the Director of Public Prosecutions, because of a lack of so called credibility and she thought the jury would not accept the evidence. Well wasn’t that was for the jury to decide this outcome, if there was enough evidence to convict or find guilty in court! Not the lawyer who is supposed to be the scales of justice- upholding justice, as a prosecuting – DDP, trying to get a good result and a conviction against this sex offender for the justice of his sex offenders victims! And she is a SC high ranking criminal lawyer and prosecutor!…..And chaired as prosecutor for Catholic Priests on the Royal Commission into Child Abuse!……… DPP = Department of Paedophile Protection. Cover-ups! – And the Cardinal George Pell , I knew nothing about child sexual abuse going on, cover-ups!………………………….
    No wonder sexual abuse victims have no resect or faith for the law or justice against Sex Predators, in positions of trust!……………No wonder Sex Offending has been covered up for so many years, under secrecy and silence with so many numbers of traumatised Victims!……. The Australian Westminster system of Law treats victims like cattle or just plain idiots!……………………No Wonder George Pell was quickly wisked away by his brothers and promoted to look after the Catholics finances in Pope city or Vatican City, Italy , a protected safe haven far away from Australia!……I know of many children who are now middle aged adults who have life long scars from brutal child abuse at the hands of deviate catholic nuns and priests at a 1960,s and 1970,s Catholic home for orphaned children, tat closed down in the 1980,s. They were secretly sexually and physically abused them, as punishment, and this is being told at the present at The Royal Commission into Child Abuse. Doubt any thing will come from it though for these innocent victims, who had their child hood stolen from them, most sadly!……..The place I am talking about is St Aiden Home for orphaned children in Bendigo Victoria. It is now a new housing development for rich people, living in fancy penthouses. So much suffering was done at this place, It was a hell hole to its child victims, and they were all treated as slaves, and beatings inflicted on them, them, for trivial behaviour, and discipline by strict brutal catholic nuns!…….None of these catholic nuns, ever were subject to charges by criminal justice!……This place has so many damaged victims, that were held as prisoners by the Catholics.. The children used to be told by the strict nuns, that they were locked up in the home, to protect the people of Bendigo from them!….. This give the nuns the power to do what they wanted to brutalise these innocent orphan children!……….All the while the Catholic Church continued to build one of the biggest gothic style cathedrals in Australia. While they neglected and imprisoned homeless, and orphaned children under their control and custody!…………………..


  2. It’ll certainly make any future ‘advice’ between Prosecutors more guarded if the ‘advice’ in all it’s detail is going to be shown to Complainants.


  3. I wasn’t game to say that here, with all the eyes and eyes of justice that love the lawyers, but stuff it, I think the OZLioness, also, she is a high profile silk legal blow fly maggot. Now ive said this I expect to get some flack here from the lawyers saying that about one of their SC mates.. I also think the same about Gerald Baden Clays defence lawyer. And I think Im speaking for many victims of crimes, that get screwed over by the justice system and defence and prosecution SC-silks!………… The jury can decide whether there is enough evidence to find a defendant guilty. The prosecutions role is only to provide the evidence, not make her opinions on if it is worthy of giving to the jury. No wonder so many crims get there charges droped on a legal technicality!
    I really hate some of these lawyers on the bar!………There nothing but legal road blocks to true justice prevailing to victims of crime!


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