A judge has awarded a former Australian National University student more than $420,000, after finding a residential college breached its duty of care to her before and after she was raped.
Justice Michael Elkaim made the ruling in the ACT Supreme Court on Friday, delivering a scathing assessment of John XXIII as a college that was "supposed to be a haven of Catholic values", but instead, "made a virtue of the consumption of alcohol".
His finding came a little more than a week after closing arguments wrapped up in the woman's case against the college.
Throughout the civil hearing, the court has heard the former student was raped in an alleyway during a "pub golf" event on the night of August 6, 2015, or in the early hours of the next morning. Pub golf involved student leaders taping bottles of alcohol to the hands of participants, who would have to drink a certain amount to make "par".
John XXIII has always maintained it banned pub golf before the event went ahead anyway in August 2015, having been organised by the college's residents association.
But on Friday, Justice Elkaim found John XXIII was actually "well aware of the appalling conduct that characterised the pub golf event, and others like it, but, by intended policy or feigned ignorance, condoned the conduct".
He said in his judgment: "I had the distinct impression that the defendant guarded its reputation as a hard drinking, good living establishment as a badge of honour and a lure to students who thought these attributes were requirements of their introduction to adulthood and university life".
Justice Elkaim said John XXIII breached its duty of care when, by virtue of an order from college head Geoff Johnston, it directed "unruly" pub golf participants to leave the college after about 9pm on August 6.
The court previously heard by that point, students were drunk to the point of vomiting, lying in the college's hallways, and an ambulance had been called.
"The precautions [to stop the students going out] were not limited to a simple, 'Don't go out', or, 'Go to the common room' instruction," Justice Elkaim said in his judgment.
"The college had disciplinary options available to it."
Justice Elkaim said John XXIII also breached its duty of care in how it dealt with the rape victim's complaint.
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He said that after the assault, the then-student approached John XXIII head Mr Johnston, who told her words to the effect of, "I'm not really sure that anything did actually happen in the alleyway", and, "Another concern is how you managed to get that drunk".
"It is plainly foreseeable that a person making such a complaint is vulnerable and susceptible to psychological harm should the complaint be improperly dealt with," Justice Elkaim said.
"There can be little doubt that a number of the comments [Mr Johnston made] ... were entirely inappropriate.
"To say things such as, 'Sometimes when boys are drunk they can be quite arrogant but are often underperformers ... are a massive departure from the pastoral duty of care that Mr Johnston, as head of college, had assumed."
Justice Elkaim said the former student was a high-functioning, high-achieving, ambitious young woman who had now had "almost five years of distress combined with an abandonment of her hopes".
He awarded her a total $420,201.57, and ordered that the college pay her minimum court costs. A lawyer representing the college said it would seek a stay on his orders to lodge an appeal.
Justice Elkaim said he would deal with that issue, as well as whether John XXIII should pay special court costs to the woman, on August 27.
The woman was also initially suing John XXIII's residents association, but reached a settlement with it on the second day of the civil hearing.