A Commonwealth contractor who says she was raped by her supervisor on a work trip has been awarded more than $660,000 in damages.
The woman began work as a contractor with Human Services in 2007 and the defendant was her supervisor.
The pair already knew each other after working together at another department, where the woman alleged the man had sexually harassed her.
Shortly after beginning to work together, the pair travelled to Sydney to attend a conference, where they stayed in separate bedrooms in a serviced apartment.
The woman claims she had been in bed for a short-time when the naked defendant entered the room and raped her.
ACT Supreme Court Master David Harper, in a judgment published on Thursday, found the defendant had “badly misread the signs”.
The man has not been charged over the incident.
She said she had feared for her personal safety and her continuing employment, suffered an affront to her dignity, injury, disability and damage, including major depression and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.
Upon returning to Canberra, the woman received treatment at the Rape Crisis Centre in Dickson, the Sexual Assault Unit at the Canberra Hospital, and with a number of psychologists and psychiatrists.
Workers compensation, Medicare and her private health fund helped pay for the treatment.
She said she was totally incapacitated for work for 10 months after the assault, and partially incapacitated for a further year.
She did not return to work at Human Services, instead taking up a role at another department where she earned less.
But the defendant claimed the pair had been in a physical relationship before the alleged assault.
He said they had kissed more than 15 times earlier in the evening.
He claimed he was wearing boxer shorts when he entered the room and the pair engaged in consensual sexual activity, but did not have sex.
The defendant said the pair had been physically or sexually intimate on about eight occasions before the date of the alleged assault, including at a Fyshwick adult store the previous year.
The woman launched civil action against her alleged attacker, claiming damages for personal injury arising from assault and battery.
She said she suffered financial loss through cost of the treatment and lost income for incapacitation from work and switching jobs.
In his judgment, Master Harper found the defendant had misread the signs.
“I accept that the defendant came into her bedroom uninvited and forced himself upon her,” Master Harper wrote.
“I accept that the plaintiff became resigned to her fate and did not fight him off. I accept that she ‘kissed him back’ and that she played a part in the removal of her pyjamas and underpants.
“I accept that the defendant was probably misled by her behaviour into assuming that he had her consent to have intercourse with her.”
But Master Harper found in favour of the woman and ordered she receive $668,856.
“I am satisfied that the defendant did not have the plaintiff’s permission to enter her bedroom, to kiss her … and certainly not to have sexual intercourse with her.
“I accordingly find that the defendant committed a trespass to the plaintiff’s person, entitling her to damages.”