A controversial former Victorian magistrate has been accused of sexually harassing a junior solicitor he was mentoring.
Richard Pithouse made headlines recently when he previously described an alleged rape victim as having “buyer’s remorse” during a hearing.
He resigned last month while under investigation for intimidating and acting aggressively towards a female defendant.
Controversial former Victorian magistrate accused of sexual harassment
The complaint alleged Pithouse communicated with a junior solicitor he had a mentoring relationship with in an unprofessional and inappropriate manner via text messages and emails.
The commission refused to detail the specific nature of the messages, however it said it considered the alleged conduct as sexual harassment.
“The commission provided the officer with an opportunity to respond to the complaint. The officer did not provide a response,” the commission said in a statement.
At the time the Judicial Commission received the sexual harassment complaint, it was already investigating Pithouse over another complaint dating back to August.
The former magistrate threatened to jail a woman to terrify her in front of her children.
Victoria Legal Aid, which represented the defendant in court, filed a complaint with the commission in September.
It claimed Pithouse had become unnecessarily aggressive towards her and remanded her in custody overnight to “assuage his own anger”.
Legal Aid claimed Pithouse’s decision-making “was dictated by his emotional state of anger rather than the application of the law”.
Pithouse denied the allegations when approached by the judicial commission last November.
After he resigned last month, the commission discontinued the investigation into both complaints.
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Long history of complaints
In 2018, Pithouse told an alleged rape victim that she was experiencing “buyer’s remorse” and had “put herself in that position”.
The judicial commission subsequently found the remark to be highly inappropriate and insensitive.
However, Pithouse retained his position after accepting the criticism of his conduct.
In 2010, he denied a sexual assault survivor the right to have their victim impact statement read to the court.
He claimed it was provided too late for consideration before sentencing the offender.
Meanwhile, in 2017, the judicial commission reprimanded Pithouse for making inappropriate comments about a victim of domestic violence during a bail application.
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