A Victorian crossbench MP is calling for the state government to introduce a “grab and drag” law in an effort to better protect women from sexual predators.
Stuart Grimley of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party said his proposed “grab and drag” offence would fill the void between unlawful assault and assault with intent to commit a sexual offence.
“If there’s not enough to charge a person with the intent to commit a sexual offence, it automatically gets downgraded to unlawful assault,” the former detective told reporters on Thursday.
“It’s just too much of a wide gap – there needs to be something in the middle.”
Mr Grimley said the new offence, which would have a maximum penalty of up to 15 years’ jail, will encourage more women to come forward.
He said the crime was often a precursor to more violent offending.
“They start off with these little offences of grabbing and dragging people that are jogging or walking and then they move on to the more serious offending,” he said.
“We need to strike while at the very beginning and send a clear message from the very start that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”
The push comes just two weeks after a man who attacked a nurse by grabbing her off a Melbourne street and dragging her into an alleyway was spared further jail time.
Jackson Williams had been out all night partying when he grabbed the 39-year-old from behind as she walked to work through the CBD early on October 28, 2018.
The 21-year-old was acquitted of attempted sexual assault but found guilty of common assault and sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year community correction order, 200 hours of community work and time already served, being 42 days
The sentence outraged aged-care worker Emm Jones, who started a change.org petition calling on the Office of Public Prosecutions to appeal the judgment.
The petition has garnered more than 94,000 signatures and was handed to Mr Grimley and Mr Hinch on Thursday.
“We cannot sit back idly when we watch such violent attacks against women and do nothing about it anymore. We cannot keep failing our victims by allowing the offender their freedom,” Ms Jones said.
Mr Hinch said the sentence was “manifestly inadequate by acceptable community standards”.
“Nearly 100,000 people have spoken saying, so far and no further. The victims have got to be heard. Too much time, too much effort is put into the perpetrators,” he said.