MAKO - Australian News - Raouf Philopos

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Dad rapes girl in hospital bed next to sick son

A major children’s hospital has been forced to introduce new security measures after a man visiting his ill son raped a teenage patient in the next bed.
Raouf Philopos sexually assaulted the girl for more than an hour as his six-year-old son slept and while nurses tended to patients in the ward at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
The 16-year-old victim was readmitted to the same hospital ward after turning to self-harm following the assault. The incident has forced a major review of Westmead’s child protection policies, and resulted in new protocols for overnight stays by carers.
“The Children’s Hospital at Westmead takes the safety of its patients, staff and visitors very seriously,” a hospital spokeswoman said.
“This matter was immediately referred to the police for investigation.”
Philopos was sentenced to a maximum 12 years’ jail for the offence, which occurred in 2003. But it only came to light last week when his appeal was rejected in the Supreme Court. Following the attack, the hospital launched a review into overnight stays and introduced a formal register of visitors.
It has a new policy on “Bed allocation at Ward Level” and nurses check rooms every 15 minutes.
As part of the tough new policy, children of similar age and gender should be placed in rooms together.
And all overnight bedside carers now have to to sign a register or logbook.
Chief Justice Peter McClelland described the offences as “very serious” and said the victim “is still in a fragile situation”.
He said Philopos, now 51, had “abused the position of trust in which the hospital had placed him by permitting him to stay with his own child overnight.”
Philopos’ lawyer, Theo Tsambas, of Tsambas and Co Solicitors, said his client was devastated.
“He still maintains his innocence and denies that these things occurred,” Mr Tsambas said.
The court was told Philopos had been given permission by hospital staff to sit in a chair for the night to be with his young son, who was recovering from a severe asthma attack. In the next bed, divided by a drawn curtain, slept the victim. She was in hospital suffering depression and severe social phobia.
Philopos approached her and started massaging her shoulders and ran his hands to her lower back, waist and thighs. He then indecently assaulted and raped her. Because of the girl’s illness she did not raise the alarm immediately, but later that day told her psychiatrist.
When interviewed by police, Philopos denied touching the woman, and said he spent the whole time looking after his sick son.
But at his trial he gave different versions and accused the victim of acting in a “very seductive way towards him”. Philopos’ DNA was found on the victim’s breast and semen samples found he could not be excluded as the source of the partial DNA profile. He was charged with six counts of indecent assault and rape.
He appealed on the grounds he was suffering a psychiatric condition at the time of the attack and was not fit to stand trial.
Philopos had emigrated to Australia from Egypt in 1993 and worked as a cleaner. His wife has filed for divorce.
In the appeal judgement, Justice McClelland found there was no suggestion Philopos was suffering a mental disorder at the time.
“Advantage was taken of a 16-year-old girl who had been hospitalised with psychiatric problems,” he said.
“In any event this was an overwhelming Crown case.”
Justice McClelland said the DNA evidence ensured that he would be convicted.

The Sunday Telegraph (6-4-2008)
Ellen Connolly

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