The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Don’t Want Domestic Assault Charges To Hinder Your Career And Travel Prospects? How About Not Assaulting Your Partner In The First Place!

Posted by Clem Bastow on October 31, 2008

Fashion designer and sometime reality TV personality Wayne Cooper was charged with common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and stalking and intimidating his partner Sarah Marsh in June, and has today been found guilty of common assault (he had earlier pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea to guilty when the other charges were dropped).

It’s always shocking and disappointing when someone who is so frequently in the public eye acts in this way, but what struck me was this kicker at the end of the article:

“We accept … that there was a hostile intent in the end and there was an assault,” [Cooper's barrister, Ian] McClintock said.

He asked the court not to record a conviction against his client as it may hinder his travel to the United States as required by his fashion business.

That reminded me acutely of the similar denouement to the Brooke Satchwell/Matthew Newton domestic assault case, in which Newton’s assault conviction was overturned and not recorded, ostensibly because he and the defense counsel argued it was a one off, but also because it would be injurious to his career. As Acting Judge Joseph Moore said, when clearing Newton:

“If a conviction is recorded, it will continue to have a lifelong effect not only for his reputation in Australia, but also his chances overseas.

“He has suffered severe shame personally, and he feels remorse for the attention he has brought on his family and friends.”

How about the “lifelong effect” having been assaulted by the man she loved will have on his former partner?

What on earth do these decisions say to the woman involved? “Oh, yeah, we see your husband/boyfriend/partner beat you, but he’s got a career to look after, you know? Chin up”. There are enough shamefully short sentences, pointless good-behaviour bonds and, in many cases, no convictions at all when it comes to domestic violence and partner assault and rape, adding this pathetic celebrity escape clause is an insult to survivors and victims of domestic violence.

If these notable men don’t want assault convictions hampering their career travel options, why don’t they consider, you know, not assaulting their partners? I know it’s a pretty revolutionary idea, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll catch on.

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10 Responses to “Don’t Want Domestic Assault Charges To Hinder Your Career And Travel Prospects? How About Not Assaulting Your Partner In The First Place!”

  1. tina_sparkle said

    wow, clem! what a revolutionary idea! men will be kicking themselves when the answer has been so simple all along!

  2. Barefoot Warrior said

    No Clem, I think you’ve missed the point on this one. Of course there is no justification for the violence. This talks about the punishment (looking forward). Looking backward is pointless; they committed the crime. Saying ‘you shouldn’t have done it in the first place’ is pointless.

    It’s quite common not to have a conviction recorded. There are many good reasons and it depends on the context. Most of the time it serves rehabilitation. Tarring somebody for life only acts as a disincentive for rehabilitation and people making amends. This needs to be seen in the balance of the theory of general deterrence. Shoplifters who ‘steal from big evil corporations’ usually get the same treatment. If you wanna go down to the Magistrates’ Court and spend a day there, you’ll see what I mean.

  3. Clem Bastow said

    Oh, saying “don’t assault your partner” is pointless, is it?

  4. lauredhel said

    Barefoot Warrior: In what way is nicking something from Coles the same as stalking and assaulting a woman?

    And why do people keep comparing violence (especially sexual violence) against women to property theft?

  5. Clem Bastow said

    I would argue that, particularly in cases of domestic violence, partner assault and rape, recording a conviction is a powerful deterrent. And especially when the perpetrator is in a position of influence, or in the public eye. Otherwise what does it say to both the victim and to other members of society, and other potentially abusive partners? “Assaulting your partner is bad, mmkay, but, hmm, I guess you’re a bit famous and have good things going for you… *rap on the knuckles* …okay, now you’re done, back to work!”?

    It’s so ridiculous that “we” (as a society/justice system) are still so concerned about the perpetrator’s career, rehabilitation (i.e. the idea that recording a conviction will somehow make them less likely to be rehabilitated/learn that punching women is not a great idea) and reputation than the safety, dignity and vindication of the woman who has been assaulted.

  6. Barefoot Warrior said

    I didn’t say that, Clem.

    I said saying ‘you shouldn’t have done that in the first place’ is pointless once it is done.

    Saying ‘don’t do it’ or ‘don’t do it again’ is of course another thing entirely.

    I think it’s important not to take things totally out of context. The tribunal had much more information at its disposal; you appear to be reaching a conclusion based on soundbytes. I would hope that our society doesn’t descend into trial by media or mob justice. It’s that kind of attitude that saw witches burned several hundred years ago, which was hardly a victory for feminism…

    I think if we share a common ground it is that ‘violence against women is wrong’ (in fact I believe violence against men is wrong too)… I just don’t think your suggestion helps our cause…

  7. Barefoot Warrior said

    Lauredhel, I can’t answer your second question; it’s beyond my experience.

    Your first question is a good one; and the answer is that they are, of course, not the same.

    My point is that it isn’t simply ‘priveleged men who assault women’ who have convictions non-recorded. Drunk drivers, speeders, drug users, people who assault men; they may have convictions non-recorded, depending upon the context.

  8. Simon said

    On topic of celebrity-partner-assaulting, Alexander Cockburn has a piece in Counterpunch alleging three trips to the emergency room for Cindy McCain over five years from 88 to 93…

  9. caitlinate said

    Yes, yes, don’t take violence against women out of context! And be sure to remember the violence against the menz!

  10. Bearded Lady said

    Domestic violence on Cup Day: http://www.theage.com.au/national/odds-are-family-violence-will-rear-up-on-cup-day-20081101-5fxh.html

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