A police officer who was described by his male victim as ‘rapey', has been convicted of sexual assault.

Michael Charles Simpson was found guilty of the offence and has lost his job as a result.

The senior sergeant was described as having an ‘illustrious' 30-year career. He was part of Victoria Police's internal ethical standards department.

The 55-year-old will have to complete 300 hours of community service as part of his punishment.

What happened?

On a night in March 2019, a Melbourne man – who cannot be named for legal reasons – made a complaint about Simpson after receiving unwanted advances.

The 55-year-old police officer initially approached the victim at a club. He kissed the victim, which was consensual.

However, things then took and unwelcome turn.

Mr Simpson proceeded to rub his erect penis on the victim's thigh. In NSW, this would be an offence of sexual touching.

This prompted the complainant to stop the senior sergeant in his tracks. The victim told Simpson in no uncertain terms to, “get that f***ing thing away from me”.

However, Mr Simpson was not deterred. He attempted to kiss the man again which was refused.

Simpson then put his hand down the back of his victim's pants and underwear. The victim again told Simpson to back off, saying, “It's not going to happen … f*** off,” as he pulled Simpson's hands away.

‘Rapey police officer'

The senior officer then began to bringing him drinks, which he felt obliged to drink and reciprocate.

Feeling uncomfortable with the situation, the victim sought help from his friends. He sent a text message to his housemate stating, “Very rapey police officer … send help.”

The victim reported the incident to Police that night. Two weeks later Mr Simpson had been arrested.

He participated in an interview with Police where he told investigating officers that he had “clearly misread the situation”. This was despite the victim telling him he wasn't interested.

After assessing all available evidence, officers from Taskforce Salus made the decision to charge Michael Charles Simpson.

Taskforce Salus had been established to investigate sexual predatory behaviour and serious sexual harassment within the Police force.

Police officer sentenced for sexual assault

At his sentencing, the Court heard that prior to his arrest, Simpson was a senior sergeant with Victoria Police's internal ethical standards department.  

Magistrate Donna Bakos said Simpson had an illustrious 30-year career as a policeman. This had come to an unceremonious end as a result of the offending.

She said Simpson felt shame both personally and professionally about his behaviour. His remorse was held to be a mitigating factor in sentencing.

Expert reports from psychologists set out that the 55-year-old had a persistent depressive disorder and continues to drink at harmful levels.

While a mental condition such as depression can be used as a mitigating factor on sentence, self-induced intoxication cannot.

The Court also heard from the victim who claimed to have developed a deep resentment for Police. He said that he has had to work hard to overcome this.

In his victim impact statement he said that he was “beyond angry” about how Simpson made him feel.

The senior sergeant's criminal lawyers sought a non-conviction for their client. The Court heard that Mr Simpson had plans to move to the US to live with his fiance now that his career as a police officer was finished.

However, the presiding Magistrate said a conviction was required due to the objective seriousness of the offending.

She sentenced Simpson to a Community Corrections Order for 18 months.

As part of the order he must undertake 300 hours of community service work and accept supervision.

Sexual Assault Charges

The definition of sexual assault is engaging in sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. It is contained in Section 61I of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Sexual assault allegations are far more common today than at any time in the past, which is reflected in sexual assault statistics. Community attitudes have changed shifted, in large part due to the #metoo movement.

Unsurprisingly, this has made fighting such allegations more difficult than ever before. There have been a number of recent prominent figures charged with sexual assault. You can read about a recent case involving a preacher here.

In the present case, the police officer's admission that he ‘misread the situation' precluded any defences that may have been open to him.

Often, a defence of ‘honest and reasonable mistake' can be raised on the issue of consent. This is particularly so if the Accused took positive steps to determine whether consent was given. In this situation, if the Accused believes that the complainant was consenting, they may be able to defend the charge.

Another common defence is identification. If the Crown cannot establish that the Accused was the offender, then the offence cannot be proved. Often experts can be used such as DNA, fingerprint, CCTV and intoxication experts to cast doubt on identification.

The maximum penalty for sexual assault 14 years Imprisonment. There is also a Standard Non-Parole Period which is 7 years imprisonment.

Despite this there have been a number of recent examples of these charges being dismissed after an accused retains experienced criminal defence lawyers. Having the best criminal lawyers for sexual assault charges will go a long way towards beating these charges.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.