A CENTRAL Victorian policewoman has encouraged other women who have experienced sexual and physical abuse from work colleagues to have the strength to come forward against their abusers.
The serving Victoria Police officer was the victim of an unlawful assault perpetrated by off-duty police officer Timothy Williams, 37, in a Swan Hill nightclub on October 22 last year.
Williams was sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Friday. A charge of sexual assault was withdrawn and he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful assault.
The court heard Williams and the victim were colleagues at Swan Hill Police in 2017 and both attended a Blue Ribbon fundraiser in Swan Hill on October 21.
During the event Williams put the victim in a headlock and she told him not to touch her.
Williams repeated the action later in the night when they were walking with others to Barrels nightclub, and was once again told not to touch the victim.
At 12.50am, the victim was dancing on the dance floor when Williams forcefully slapped her on the behind causing her severe pain, the court was told.
The matter was reported to police and investigated by Taskforce Salus, which handles sexual assault complaints against police.
Williams was interviewed at Lake Boga on November 2 and admitted to carrying out the assault.
He resigned from Victoria Police in August this year.
The victim attended the plea hearing in Bendigo and read aloud her victim impact statement, describing how the incident left her feeling “shocked, dirty and worthless as well as physically hurt”.
“The shame and embarrassment led me to not report the incident for six days,” she said.
“When I did report the assault I felt further humiliated having to describe the pain caused to a male Sergeant.
“I had to then repeat my recollection of the incident to a number of people which led to me feeling anxious, embarrassed and upset.”
Since the assault, the victim avoids being left alone with male colleagues and is reluctant to attend social events. She also said the pride she felt at being a member of Victoria Police had been affected.
“I find myself often hoping there is at least one other female with me,” the victim said.
“I was recently in a work physical training course for the day. It was myself and eight other police officers all of whom were men.
“At the beginning of the day I was very anxious and felt vulnerable. I was so upset I contemplated leaving the course.
“I have never before been uncomfortable about being the only female around a group of men, especially men who are known to me and who are my colleagues.”
The victim told the Bendigo Advertiser the complaints process was stressful, but ultimately she believed it was important to hold men to account for their actions. She hoped it would encourage other women to come forward against their male colleagues who have subjected them to abuse.
Williams entered the force as a Protective Services Officer in 2012 and became a uniform member in 2014. He worked with Swan Hill Police from 2016.
He described his offending as a “moment of stupidity” and that he had “over-indulged in alcohol”.
Police prosecutor Damian Plummer said it could not be described as just one “moment” because the victim had twice told Williams not to touch her.
“After those two blunt warnings, he slapped her on the behind with force and without warning,” he said.
Magistrate Megan Aumair said it was at the higher end of seriousness for unlawful assault.
“She is commended for calling out the behaviour, and I can only hope that today represents some closure for her,” she said.
“That behaviour cannot and will not be tolerated.”
Williams was convicted and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond. He was ordered to make a $2000 donation to the White Ribbon Foundation and to complete counselling for respectful relationships with women.