A Perth judge has shown “mercy” to a former University of WA law student who admitted sexually assaulting a woman on Rottnest Island during post-exam celebrations.
- Rayapen will be able to serve his two-year sentence in the community
- The judge took into account his guilty plea and “genuine” remorse
- The court heard the victim’s life had been “shattered”
Luigi Rayapen, 26, was today given a two-year suspended jail term for the offenses which were committed in the early hours of July 1, 2020.
At the time, Rayapen was the social vice president of UWA’s law faculty, the Blackstone Society, and had been tasked with being “a wellness representative” during the celebrations.
However, after two days of drinking, he sexually assaulted the 21-year-old woman as she tried to sleep on a bed in one of the island’s bungalows.
The District Court was told the woman did not know Rayapen but allowed him to sleep at the accommodation she was sharing with others.
The abuse happened when Rayapen, the woman and another student were all in the same bed and while another couple slept on an air mattress on the floor.
Woman woke to Rayapen groping her
After waking up to Rayapen rolling her over and groping her, the woman repeatedly told him to stop what he was doing and tried unsuccessfully to kick the third person in the bed to make him aware of what was happening.
The abuse did not stop until the woman grabbed Rayapen around the throat and he backed away.
She immediately told people in the bungalow what had happened.
Rayapen’s barrister, Julie Condon KC, described her client as “a very committed, very accomplished and very dedicated young man” who was deeply and genuinely remorseful for what he had done.
Ms Condon said he apologized to the woman the next day and said he hoped she could forgive him.
The court also heard that later in a phone call made to him by the woman, who had been set up by police, he broke down sobbing, saying he was ashamed of what he had done.
Rayapen had ‘helped’ sex assault victims
It was submitted Rayapen was “a strong sense of civic duty” and, before his offenses, had done voluntary work at a suburban legal center helping women who had been the victims of sexual offenses.
“A number of times to professionals and people close to him…he has articulated he can’t really believe (he was) a person who would engage in serious criminal behavior.” Ms Condon said.
The court heard Rayapen had been subjected to abuse and threats on social media, which had contributed to him suffering an adjustment disorder and depression.
Rayapen finished his law degree last year, but Ms Condon said because of the convictions, he would “not be able to fulfill his ambition of practicing as a lawyer”.
Ms Condon also submitted that Rayapen had taken “real and positive” steps towards his rehabilitation including counseling and joining Alcoholics Anonymous.
Victim’s life ‘shattered’
Prosecutor Crystal Cusato submitted only an immediate jail term was appropriate, saying the offenses had “shattered [the victim’s] entire life”.
Judge Laurie Levy said while suspended jail terms for such serious offenses were “few and far between”, the consideration of mercy had led to him concluding that a suspended term was appropriate.
He said the reasons included Rayapen’s plea of guilty, “his deep and genuine remorse”, his demonstrated commitment to public service and the “strong” steps he had taken to rehabilitation.
Judge Levy also imposed a lifetime restraining order, banning him from contacting the woman.
Rayapen made no comment as he left the court and ran away from the media, while some of his supporters appeared to wave their arms in the air in celebration as they emerged from the building.