Magistrate stood down for probe of new complaint over in-court conduct

The Judicial Commission of Victoria has stood down a Victorian magistrate who once described an alleged rape victim as having “buyer’s remorse”, while it investigates a new complaint regarding his in-court behaviour that was lodged with the commission.

Magistrate Richard Pithouse had been investigated in 2018 for his comments to the alleged rape victim, which he made after being told the woman called a sexual assault crisis line the morning after the alleged sexual assault.

Magistrate Richard Pithouse.Credit:Hamilton Spectator

The commission in 2021 found the remark, which Pithouse made during a Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal hearing, as highly inappropriate and insensitive.

However, Pithouse kept his position and the commission recommended he be counselled over his conduct.

The commission has now revealed that a fresh complaint was lodged in September about Pithouse’s in-court behaviour.

The detail of the new complaint has not yet been revealed.

The commission will consider whether Pithouse’s conduct amounted to “proved misbehaviour or incapacity of the officer” and stood him down from court duties while it investigated.

If he was kept in his role, the commission said, it would impair public confidence in the magistrate’s impartiality, independence or integrity.

Pithouse will now only be able to perform work in chambers and will not hear any matters in open or closed court until further notice.

The latest complaint has been referred to an investigating panel and the examination was ongoing, the commission said.

With AAP

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