News State Tasmania News Falls Festival Tasmania: man charged over sexual assault

Falls Festival Tasmania: man charged over sexual assault

The alleged assault occurred in the crowd during a set on Friday night. Photo: Kim Maisch
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A 32-year-old man has been charged over a sexual assault at the Falls Music Festival in Tasmania, after being apprehended in a citizen’s arrest by the alleged victim and her friend.

Tasmania Police said a 19-year-old woman was assaulted in the mosh pit about 9.30pm on Sunday night.

Senior Sergeant Darren Latham said a man had been charged.

“The women involved, the person involved and her friend, actually apprehended the male, then handed them to security, who then handed them to police for the matter to be investigated,” he said.

It’s the third report of sexual assault at the festival this year.

On Friday night a young woman was assaulted by an unknown man while watching a set by the band The Jungle Giants.

A sexual assault at the festival was also reported on Saturday night, but the young female victim decided she did not want a formal police investigation into the matter.

Police said elements of the incident would be followed up.

The Marion Bay event last January was marred by two reports of sexual assault in the mosh pit, and one of rape in the camping area.

Senior Sergeant Latham said it was good to see women reporting sexual assaults.

It is encouraging that people are taking positive action, but we of course wish that it didn’t happen at all.”

In a statement, Falls Festival co-producer Paul Piticco welcomed the arrest.

“These incidences have been happening at mass gatherings for years and we are encouraged by the fact that this unacceptable behaviour is being identified and people are coming forward,” he said.

“It takes a lot of courage and we are happy to be seeing a cultural change where victims feel comfortable to report.”

The statement also said there was still more work to do around the issue of sexual assault.

“As a society we need to continue to educate people about consent to eradicate this dreadful behaviour and provide victims with a safe space.”

Falls’ response ‘a little disappointing’

The statement is the first comment from Falls since the assaults, and media were denied access to the festival after the first report.

Susan Fahey from the Womens Legal Service Tasmania said the response from Falls was a “little disappointing”.

“I think a stronger condemnation of the recent assaults could be really helpful,” she said.

“That’s the kind of thing that does give people confidence that if they report it they will be listened to.”

But Ms Fahey said the festival should be commended for the steps it has taken following last year’s assaults.

“They have actually been doing what they can to make the venue as safe as they can,” she said.

Plain-clothed police were in the mosh pit this year and stickers and badges saying “Sexual assault is a crime” and “enjoy the festival, don’t assault anyone” were being handed out.

Ms Fahey said the stickers could help people to rethink their behaviour, but it was sad people needed the reminder.