Falls Festival Tasmania: Police charge man over sexual assault after citizen's arrest

| 01.01,18. 09:02 PM |

Falls Festival Tasmania: Police charge man over sexual assault after citizen's arrest

Photo: The alleged assault occurred in the crowd during a set on Friday night. (Supplied: Kim Maisch)

A 32-year-old man has been charged over a sexual assault at the Falls Music Festival in Tasmania, after being apprehended in a citizen's arrest by the alleged victim and her friend.

Tasmania Police said a 19-year-old woman was assaulted in the mosh pit about 9:30pm on Sunday night.

Senior Sergeant Darren Latham said a man had been charged.

"The women involved, the person involved and her friend, actually apprehended the male, then handed them to security, who then handed them to police for the matter to be investigated," he said.

It's the third report of sexual assault at the festival this year.

On Friday night a young woman was assaulted by an unknown man while watching a set by the band The Jungle Giants.

A sexual assault at the festival was also reported on Saturday night, but the young female victim decided she did not want a formal police investigation into the matter.

Police said elements of the incident would be followed up.

The Marion Bay event last January was marred by two reports of sexual assault in the mosh pit, and one of rape in the camping area.

Senior Sergeant Latham said it was good to see women reporting sexual assaults.

"It is encouraging that people are taking positive action, but we of course wish that it didn't happen at all."

In a statement, Falls Festival co-producer Paul Piticco welcomed the arrest.

"These incidences have been happening at mass gatherings for years and we are encouraged by the fact that this unacceptable behaviour is being identified and people are coming forward," he said.

"It takes a lot of courage and we are happy to be seeing a cultural change where victims feel comfortable to report."

The statement also said there was still more work to do around the issue of sexual assault.

"As a society we need to continue to educate people about consent to eradicate this dreadful behaviour and provide victims with a safe space."

Falls' response 'a little disappointing'

The statement is the first comment from Falls since the assaults, and media were denied access to the festival after the first report.

Susan Fahey from the Womens Legal Service Tasmania said the response from Falls was a "little disappointing".

"I think a stronger condemnation of the recent assaults could be really helpful," she said.

"That's the kind of thing that does give people confidence that if they report it they will be listened to."

But Ms Fahey said the festival should be commended for the steps it has taken following last year's assaults.

"They have actually been doing what they can to make the venue as safe as they can," she said.

Plain-clothed police were in the mosh pit this year and stickers and badges saying "Sexual assault is a crime" and "enjoy the festival, don't assault anyone" were being handed out.

Ms Fahey said the stickers could help people to rethink their behaviour, but it was sad people needed the reminder.

"I think it's a really sad thing that as a community we need stickers telling people that it's wrong to sexually assault someone and they should just go and have fun," she said.

"We shouldn't be asking what can Falls do to prevent this, what can the victim do to prevent this, it is what can we do to stop these people from offending."

The issue of sexual assaults at music events has been receiving international attention, with a number of artists calling out incidents in crowds.

Ms Fahey said it was "heartening" to see people reporting.

"I think from the assaults at Falls last year, along with the #MeToo campaign that people actually feel confident that if they come forward they will actually be listened to and there's the support and action there to help them," she said.

She said everyone was responsible for calling out bad behaviour and reporting incidents.

"You don't necessarily have to take them on yourself, there are always security and police there," Ms Fahey said.

"That's one of the things you see coming out of Falls, that there are other people assisting the people who have been assaulted."


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