• Cheek

"I was raped by a prominent Melbourne bar owner"

This article contains details of rape.

We recently received a message from a Melbourne-based woman who wanted to share her experience with reporting a rape.

The woman, who we’ll call Megan, told us that she was raped by a prominent Melbourne bar owner at his residence on 25 July 2020. She reported the incident to the Sexual offences and child abuse investigation teams (SOCIT) within the Victorian Police on 7 December 2020. She contacted us on Friday 5 March 2021, the same day she received confirmation that her case was being looked into, 89 days after she reported.

Megan was told the delay was due to officers being deployed to manage COVID-19, but told us she felt the timing of the call, which coincided with Brittany Higgins’ and the historical rape allegations coming out of Canberra, was no coincidence. “I wonder how many women are getting these calls,” she tells us.

“There’s this whole movement I’m loving, but how on earth are we meant to report when the systems let us down just as much as the guys who did it in the first place?” asks Megan.

Megan told us she was raped on 25 July 2020, by a prominent bar owner in Melbourne, in his home. “I knew him through friends and he invited us over and was making out drinks,” she says. “It kind of happened twice… once with him and his friend, without penetration. Later when the rape occurred it was just him.”

“I hadn't spent one-on-one time with him before,” Megan says, “but since it happened, I’ve heard he does this a lot.”

Megan made an appointment with her doctor a few days following the incident, on Wednesday 29 July, 2020. “My GP never referred a rape kit,” tells us. “We did a full STD test, which is where [they] obtained urine and blood samples as well as a swab. But it was in the middle of lockdown, so my GP never invited me to come in even though I’d told her I’d been assaulted and had bite mark bruises on me. She gave me some resources for a counselling service I could call, but she didn’t let me know the avenues of reporting or where I could go.” Megan only saw the pathology nurse face-to-face for the tests, not her GP.

A few months later, on 7 December 2020, Megan reported her rape to the SOCIT within the Victorian Police. “I provided names and contact numbers of the people who were there [to police].” Megan also gave police names and phone numbers for two other women who told Megan they had been raped by the same man. “They haven’t contacted anyone whose names I provided,” Megan adds.

“I took photos of the injuries which I provided to police, but as I didn’t report for three months, they weren’t able to measure them, which I’m now told that would’ve been useful.” Megan provided police with copies for the texts she sent on the evening, which included messages like ‘I’m scared,’ ‘I don’t know where I am,’ and ‘come get me.’

“The police said they would arrest him and contact witnesses that week,” Megan says, indicating the week of her reporting, 7 December 2020. “But they didn’t.”

Two days after reporting, on 9 December 2020, Megan’s friend, who was at the alleged rapist’s house when the incident occurred, went into the SOCIT to make a statement. “At one point, her and I were in a bed with his and his friend, and the whole thing was just off,” says Megan. “[My friend] told the police what happened, but they never called again. I’m not sure why they didn’t do anything [with it],” says Megan.

“I got a letter later in December saying [the matter] was passed on to a new officer, and I got another call from them [on 5 March],” Megan says. “I know they contacted my therapist to get their notes, and the GP who prescribed my anti-depressants following [my] reporting highly suicidal thoughts. But as far as I know, that’s all they did when I reported it.”

After hearing nothing, Megan followed up the following month. “I followed up with another officer whose name I’d been given in January,” she says. “He called me and asked if I knew any other girls [the same thing had happened to]. He then said it would be referred to this other officer, who would be looking into it. I emailed the second officer, and didn’t hear back at all. And I only just heard back from the third officer [on 5 March].”

Megan has provided us with a copy of the email she sent to the second officer, dated 15 February, 2020. The email mentions her blood, urine, and swab tests and requests the officer alert her as to whether they had been attained from the pathology lab. She also describes that the delay in the matter moving forward is impacting her mental health. Megan tells us she did not receive a response to the email.

On 5 March, the same day Megan reached out to us, she was contacted by the third officer, who she says “basically explained the delay was due to COVID, and that he now has my report and will look into it, but couldn’t give me a timeframe, and said he had a backlog to get through,” says Megan. “He also told me that the GP said the blood sample wasn’t taken. He said he’s spoken with them a few times and there is no record of a blood sample, which is definitely not true.” Megan confirmed that she underwent a blood test at the same time as her swap and urine tests.

“I asked if he could give me a heads up when he was going to talk to people, and he said that’s not really appropriate and that my part was kind of over in the investigation and that I’ve done what I can,” Megan recounts. “Which I thought was a little insensitive.”

“I just knew that as a woman I had to report it for other women. Even if nothing happened. It’s common knowledge in the Melbourne bar scene that he does this, and no one does anything about it. He usually targets younger girls who are more scared,” says Megan. “I am 28 now, 27 at the time, and I have enough backing me [that] I can take him on. I don't care if I get banned from a few bars. But a lot of [people] do.”

'Megan' is a pseudonym used for the anonymity of the survivor.