Warning: Please note this post contains content that may be upsetting.
In 1981 Xan Fraser was gang raped. She was 12 years old.
Almost 30 years later Xan has finally been able to read the judgment that was delivered in the case against her attackers. The verdict was clear: the crime occurred, the men involved were sentenced and the judge blamed her for what had happened. A 12 year old.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the offence [sic] occurred as a result of the very large quantity of drink which the girl took acting with complete imprudence and utter disregard for her own well-being.
…had the girl … retained some degree of consciousness it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that in that condition she may have consented to your acts. Who’s to know?”
That judge (now deceased) went on the become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland and Xan wants to know how the legal system could have failed her so dismally.
Xan told the ABC’s 7.30 Report this week that:
“They raped me. They abused me. They left me for dead. … Why did he not sentence them to jail?…”
The three offenders, who admitted their crime to police, were sentenced to two years probation. None of them was ever imprisoned.
On the night of her rape, Xan was at a party, she had been drinking spirits for the first time in her life when three young men took her deep into the Australian bush and raped her.
“Apparently they walked me up to a bush which was 200 metres from the house that we were at, which was only around the corner from my house. I was told that they raped me, sodomised me, played with me for hours, took all my clothes off. …
There was a panel, old panel, Holden panel van in the yard and they took me body, my naked body, and they put it on the dash and they put my head through the steering wheel and they snapped it onto lock.”
Having no memory of the crime itself, Xan was a relatively calm witness when she took the stand in court. But even at age 12, she could see where the questioning was headed. She was asked repeatedly about the tightness of the clothes she wore and whether her outfit was intentionally provocative. She was being blamed for the crime committed against her.
The Judge said:
“… The girl has not been, so far as I can judge, in any way upset by her experience … I do not think I have ever heard in the witness box from a more composed 12 year old.”
Xan now lives in Melbourne and has two children.
She is planning to write a book and is exploring her legal options, including suing the State of Queensland.
Please note if this post or any of the comments bring up any issues for you, or if you need to speak to someone please call the NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017. It does not matter where about you live in Australia, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.