A JAMES Morrison Academy student has been spared a conviction despite pleading guilty to the indecent assault of a fellow student.
Matthew Harkins, 26, will return to his birthplace of the United States of America after receiving the favourable sentence in the Adelaide District Court this week.
Originally charged with rape – before it was downgraded to a lesser charge – the offending relates to a sexual encounter that Harkins took too far in August 2018.
Judge Rauf Soulio said the incident was “not a transient sexual assault”, but instead cited confusion about the issue of consent.
“You pleaded guilty on the basis that you were reckless as to that issue,” Judge Soulio said.
“It’s a fundamental position that women in the position of your victim are entitled to refuse to engage in, or refuse to continue, sexual activity at any point.”
James Morrison provided a character reference for Harkins, describing him as someone who was respectful and professional.
“Morrison was at pains to point out he abhors any form of behaviour that is disrespectful, harmful or violent toward any person,” Judge Soulio said.
While prosecution and defence counsel had agreed the matter could be dealt with by way of a bond, the matter for conviction remained finely balanced.
“Ultimately, I have come to the view it’s appropriate to proceed without a conviction,” Judge Soulio said.
No conviction was recorded and Harkins was required to enter into a $5000, two-year good behaviour bond.
However, with the intention to return to the USA almost immediately, he will not be bound by the bond in his home country.