There has been a groundswell of support for new laws targeting sexual predators in the wake of a controversial case which saw a footballer spared jail over an alleyway assault.
A Victorian crossbench MP is calling for the state government to introduce a “grab and drag” law in an effort to better protect sexual assault victims.
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.”
More than 90,000 people have signed a petition, started by activist Emm Jones, backing the ‘grab and drag’ law and calling for change in the wake of the suburban footballer’s sentence.
Jackson Williams, 21, grabbed a 39-year-old nurse from behind as she walked to work through the Melbourne CBD early on October 28, 2018.
CCTV, seen in the video below, showed Williams grabbing the woman in a headlock and dragging her into Healeys Lane as she screamed and struggled.
The video shows him putting his hand over her mouth and throwing her to the ground before sitting on top of her.
The 21-year-old was found not guilty in Victoria’s County Court earlier this month of assault with the intent to commit a sexual offence and spared jail over a common assault charge.
Jones said, for her, the verdict was the final straw when it came to sexual assault.
The mother-of-three says she doesn’t want to live in a world where her girls’ and her own safety is compromised just because they are women.
“We need to set a benchmark that, as a society, were are not going to tolerate this behaviour,” she told 7NEWS.com.au.
“There needs to be a standard that these crimes are unacceptable.
“That woman could have been any of us. The nurse (assaulted by Williams) could have been any of us.”
The petition was handed to Grimley and Hinch on Thursday.
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.
– With AAP