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The Courier Mail
By Michelle Hele, April 18 2002

Schoolgirls raped by drink-drug predators

THREE schoolgirls have been drugged and raped in Cairns in the past three weeks as increasing numbers of women are having their drinks spiked.

Fair Trading Minister Merri Rose told State Parliament yesterday she was working with her department's liquor-licensing division to increase public awareness of the dangers of leaving drinks unattended.

"Sexual assault counselling services tell us drink spiking is on the increase," she said, giving as an example the Gold Coast Sexual Assault clinic which handles between eight and 18 cases a month.
"But many of them go unreported as victims have no memory of what happened or they are too embarrassed to complain."

Ms Rose said one counsellor at the Cairns Sexual Assault Centre dealt with three cases of drug-facilitated rape of three schoolgirls in the past six weeks. The youngest was 14.

"They girls met young men, went to a party, had their drinks spiked and were raped," she said.
The three rapes were not reported to police.

Ms Rose said the majority of drink spiking seemed to happen in highly crowded venues and at premises open beyond midnight and offering nightclub entertainment.

"Drink spiking is a serious and escalating problem," she said.

"The Government has formulated a long-term inter-agency response to this disturbing trend."

A state-wide awareness campaign will begin before the end of the month in licensed premises.
Its effectiveness will be assessed after three months.

Ms Rose warned women not to leave their drinks unattended, not to let strangers buy them drinks and to take their own drinks to parties.

Crime Stoppers officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Michael Volk, pictured, agreed drink spiking was on the increase.

"It is not uncommon," he said.

He said that almost every night in the Brisbane metropolitan area at least one woman would present herself to hospital or a sexual assault service in relation to having had her drink drugged.

Snr Sgt Volk said the problem appeared to becoming more widespread for a number of reasons, including that a larger variety of drugs was now available to commit the offence.

He said anything from prescription medications such as sleeping pills to illegal drugs such as ecstasy were used.

Snr Sgt Volk said research indicated offenders had met victims previously in 70 per cent of sex assault cases involving spiked drinks.

"You are not looking at Mr Nobody who you have never met before," he said.

"The only people you can trust are your very closest friends."

The Queensland Police Service has set up a database and people can ring Crime Stoppers to give them information on anyone they suspect might be involved in spiking drinks.

Snr Sgt Volk said this could help police investigate future cases of sexual assault or rape.

© Queensland Newspapers




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