Hedland cop’s bum-pinching case dismissed

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Tom ZaunmayrNorth West Telegraph
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Hand holding a gavel in silhouette against a red grungy background.
Camera IconHand holding a gavel in silhouette against a red grungy background. Credit: iStockphoto

There’s nothing overtly sexual about bottom pinching in the era of twerking and the Me Too movement, according to a Supreme Court Justice who dismissed an appeal over indecent assault charges faced by a Pilbara cop.

Former South Hedland Police Sergeant Andrew John Ramsden was found not guilty of indecent assault in March 2018 after he pinched the side of a woman’s bum during a team photo at a charity wheelchair basketball match in 2017.

An appeal to the decision was dismissed in the Supreme Court of WA last week.

Former South Hedland Police Station Senior Sergeant Andrew Ramsden and Officer In Charge Allan Jane
Camera IconFormer South Hedland Police Station Senior Sergeant Andrew Ramsden and Officer In Charge Allan Jane Credit: North West Telegraph

Justice Jennifer Smith said there was no authority to establish bums as an intimate body part, to which any touch was sexual.

“The effect of the 'Me Too' movement has been to increase the number of complaints by women and to increase awareness of the unacceptability of such acts and conduct,” she said.

“However, there was no material before her Honour upon which a finding could be made that the effect of the movement itself has resulted in a change in community standards as to the ‘acts’ and ‘conduct’ that should, at law, be deemed ‘indecent’ so as to attract a criminal penalty.”

VideoA crowd cheered on Port Hedland Policeman who was showing his moves at North West Festival.

Justice Smith’s comments echoed those of South Hedland Magistrate Michelle Ridley who, in finding Sgt Ramsden not guilty last year, said the act had lost its overtly sexual connotation.

“When regard is had to the fact that in 2017, in an era of 'twerking' (dancing whilst squatting and shaking one's bottom provocatively) and grinding, simulated sex and easy access to pornography, the thought of a pinch on the bottom is almost a reference to a more genteel time,” she said.

“It seems it's low on seriousness now, that it doesn't even rate a mention.”

Sgt Ramsden told the court he had made a serious misjudgement in pinching the woman’s bottom to get a funny reaction for the photo.

The court heard the woman felt humiliated by the incident, and believed Sgt Ramsden had not taken her complaint seriously.

A WA Police spokeswoman said Sgt Ramsden had returned to full operational duties.

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