A former Melbourne magistrate who indecently assaulted two teenage boys in the 1980s has lost his job and his reputation but kept his freedom.
Simon Mitchell Cooper, 56, was handed a suspended three-year jail term in the Victorian County Court after pleading guilty to seven counts of indecent assault.
The former criminal prosecutor became a magistrate in February 2012 but resigned following his arrest earlier this year.
NSW Judge Steven Norrish said the non-disclosure of Cooper’s offending for almost 30 years enabled him to take up a position to which he was not entitled but he had made a substantial contribution to the community.
He said if Cooper was sent to prison it would present a risk to him and unique “if not insurmountable” difficulties for the prison authorities who had to protect him.
“There would be particular risks for him beyond those expected by most members of the prison population,” Judge Norrish said on Tuesday.
He described Cooper’s risk of reoffending as almost non-existent and said he had had an unblemished character since the assaults that took place between 1984 and 1986.
“The offender has suffered a deserved spectacular fall from grace which has wrought upon him embarrassment, shame and humiliation in the full public gaze which has been more extensive than would be suffered by other offenders charged with similar offences,” he said.
One third of sentences handed down for indecent assault between 2007 and 2012 were wholly suspended, Judge Norrish said.
“Reforming oneself is a matter of credit not criticism,” Judge Norrish said.
“His demonstrated capacity for productive and honourable conduct shows not only his capacity for rehabilitation but also the progress of his rehabilitation.”
Judge Norrish said the offending had a particularly profound effect on the first of the two victims, whose complaints gave rise to six of the seven charges, and he had been subject to more frequent and intense attacks.
The victim had shown courage in his decision to speak out, which resulted in charges being laid, Judge Norrish said.
He said the offending was serious but noted Cooper had incurred significant losses – including financial losses – as a result of his guilty pleas.
Speaking outside the court on Tuesday, the first victim said the day had demonstrated that victims of sexual assault would be believed.
“If one other person can stand up and speak the truth, from what’s occurred with me, I think that’s a great thing for society,” he said.
“To those perpetrators, be warned, because the victims will be heard, they’ll be believed and they (the perpetrators)will be held to account.”