Jarryd Hayne has been sentenced to at least 3 years in prison for rape. His victim spent 5 getting justice.

This story discusses sexual assault and could be triggering for some readers. 

Jarryd Hayne is going to prison.

It won't be easy. He's a rich and famous person. His barrister suggests that inside, he will need to be kept apart from the rest of the prison population, to prevent attacks on a trophy inmate and, to protect him from people who may try to extort money from the famous footballer. 

It has been, she says, a very long road to reach this sentence, and it has taken a toll.

She's right. It's been four and a half years since Hayne was interviewed, and charged with sexual assault

There have been three trials. One hung jury. Hours upon hours of analysis and testimony. 

It takes its toll. 

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On a young woman from Newcastle, who is un-named but known to all around her, who has been waiting for almost five years for validation of what she went through at the hands of one of Australia's most celebrated footballers. 


For recognition that what he did, leaving a taxi running outside her home while he came inside, watched the last minutes of the NRL Grand Final with her mum, then went into the 26-year-old's bedroom and assaulted her, orally and digitally, to the extent that she was left bleeding heavily from bite wounds and needed medical attention. 

The court heard that the pair cleaned blood off themselves in the victim's ensuite bathroom before Hayne returned to the taxi and paid $550 to the driver to be taken to Sydney.

During the past four and a half years, the young woman has heard the crime described as "less serious" than other assaults because she and Hayne texted about sex before he arrived at her home. 

She's been, she says, living in a "never-ending nightmare". 

She's been, she says, subject to vile abusive comments on social media, that "don't just hurt, but stay with me".

She's been, she says, unable to "feel any sense of peace in my life". 

And she is, she says, "stronger and wiser, but I am damaged, and I won't ever be the same person." 

Hayne's supporters will say the same thing about him. That the star lost contracts worth hundreds of thousands. That his reputation is in tatters. That his life in jail on remand was torture and his sentence will be worse. 


His reputation, of course, was already on shaky ground. In 2019 Hayne settled a sexual assault case brought against him in America for an incident that happened in 2015. The woman involved said she had been left bleeding from her vagina. She was paid almost $100,000 to settle out of court.

And the judge found that it was Hayne's deliberate actions, using his six-foot-two body - more than twice the weight of his victim - to commit sexual violence while the young woman beneath him said "no" and "stop" repeatedly. 

"Knowing the complainant was not consenting," Judge Graham Turnbull said, "He overwhelmed her in an indulgence of physical power to achieve some sexual gratification."

It was Hayne's choice to bid to reduce his jail time by going to court again, putting his victim through the trauma of a trial for the third time. 

In 2021, he was sentenced to five years and eight months for this crime. He appealed, the verdict was overturned, and this sentence is 11 months shorter. 

The woman's ordeal, however, was two years longer.

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Hayne won't serve four years and nine months in prison. He will be eligible for parole in two years, May 2025. Given the length of these proceedings and the legal resources available to him, it would be reasonable to assume he will probably be released.


There are plenty who will say that the sentence fits the crime. The judge believed that the sexual assault was "below mid-range" and that Hayne "had a seemingly low-risk of re-offending". 

But what of the young woman's ordeal? She has been fighting for justice for longer than her rapist will serve in prison. 

Her life has been changed forever and held in impossible limbo for almost five years while a powerful man said he did not do something that he has been found to have done. 

Serving time happens in all kinds of ways. 

Sexual assault is an incredibly complicated crime to prosecute. We see examples, over and again, of the almost super-human strength it takes for a woman to withstand every storm of discouragement to seek justice for what was done to her. 

Today, Hayne's victim gets to know her attacker will be behind bars for the next two years, at least. 

But the prison she's been in since that Grand Final night in 2018? The doors aren't yet beginning to open.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. 

Feature Image: Getty.