Victoria Police has lost a protracted court battle against an officer who was sacked in 2019 over allegations he exposed himself to a beauty therapist as she waxed his “Speedo line”.
The senior constable was found guilty in 2018 of “disgraceful conduct” after an internal police investigation, but must be reinstated to his former role with the Melbourne Highway Patrol following a decision by the Court of Appeal last week.
The case had previously been the subject of an appeal to the Supreme Court of Victoria and a five-day review by the Police Registration and Services Board before reaching the state’s highest court.
The officer, given the pseudonym IHF in court documents, had attended a day spa and wellness centre on six occasions between in 2016 and 2017, where he requested a “male wax, Speedo line”.
He repeatedly asked for a 23-year-old woman to perform the depilatory procedure, including on March 27, 2017, when the alleged incident occurred.
“As I was waxing him he asked if I could go a little further and lifted the towel to reveal that his penis was erect. He was staring at me strangely and I felt disgusted,” the woman told police investigators.
However, the officer provided a different account of the incident when interviewed by Victoria Police’s discipline inquiry officer Shaun Le Grand.
“I never exposed myself. The towel was on me the whole time … I’ve held my bits through the towel,” the senior constable told Mr Le Grand.
The officer claimed the towel was “covering [his] genitals the same way as a cricket box”.
However, Mr Le Grand upheld the charge of disgraceful conduct and the officer was dismissed in February 2019.
The officer then appealed against his dismissal in April 2019 to the Police Registration and Services Board, an independent authority that reviews appeals by police against disciplinary action taken by force command.
The board found the decision to sack the officer was “harsh, unjust and unreasonable”, before ruling the charge was not proven based on an “inadvertent exposure hypothesis”.
“The board is not satisfied that the evidence supports a [finding] that the applicant intended to expose his penis and that the applicant had an erection,” according to court documents.
Force command claimed the board’s ruling was “illogical and legally unreasonable” and challenged it in the Supreme Court of Victoria.
In September 2020, the Supreme Court ruled the board’s decision was legally sound and dismissed the appeal by Victoria Police.
A subsequent challenge in the Court of Appeal was also unsuccessful, according to a judgment published on June 3.
If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)
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