Jennifer Peterson, 31, pleaded guilty in the County Court of Victoria on Monday to three charges of sexual assault on December 4, 2016.
The assaults occurred at another teammate’s Brunswick East home following a day spent drinking at the roller derby club’s Christmas party.
Peterson’s lawyer, prominent barrister Julian McMahon SC, described the party as a “highly sexualised environment saturated with alcohol”.
“It’s clear there was a lot of nudity and it was a very tactile event, lots of bodies squashing into spas, lots of people engaging in a range of conduct from dancing naked to games such as ‘truth, dare or pash’ and lots of people kissing each other,” he told the pre-sentencing hearing.
“It’s a very unusual event, I haven’t seen another case like it.” He said his client has a “very hazy recollection of the night” as she was “obviously terribly drunk”.
The prosecution argued while the evening was sexualised, there were boundaries. Peterson touched all three women on the vagina in the spa without consent, the prosecutor said.
Peterson attempted three times to touch one victim’s vagina before eventually grabbing her “forcefully” and complaining when she pulled away. The following morning the woman woke to discover bite marks all over her chest, stomach and neck, believed to have been inflicted by Peterson. In a statement to court, the victim said she could no longer sleep without taking a cocktail of pills and alcohol.
“I have never experienced this kind of trauma in my life … my life has changed in ways that can’t be undone,” her statement read.
The woman still plays in the roller derby team but the environment reminds her of the assault.
“I don’t let my guard down at my sporting club which is supposed to be a safe space,” she said.
Peterson has depression and anxiety and was known to binge drink prior to the assaults.
She has no criminal history and was forced to give up her job as a children’s swimming instructor.
Both the prosecution and defence agreed a non-custodial sentence would be appropriate, although Mr McMahon hopes his client can avoid conviction so she can return to the job she loves.
“She’s already been humiliated,” he said.
Justice Gavan Meredith will sentence Peterson on July 23.
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