Former ATSIC Chairman liable

By Legal Eagle

It seems that the verdict is out with respect to Carol Stingel’s claim against Geoff Clark – Clark is liable to pay Ms Stingel $20,000 damages in respect of post-traumatic stress suffered as a result of a 1971 gang rape which Clark is alleged to have led. Regular readers may recall reading a post on the High Court’s decision last year in July which allowed Ms Stingel to proceed with her claim.

It should be emphasised that Mr Clark’s liability is not criminal. He has not been found guilty of a crime, which would require him to be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt (the criminal standard). Rather he has been found liable to pay damages on the balance of probabilities, a lower standard of proof (the civil standard).

I had heard about allegations of rape and sexual assault against Clark in 2000 from an acquaintance of indigenous background (before any allegations had been publicised in The Age). When I questioned how a man could become head of ATSIC without these allegations being made public, my “source” said people were scared of Clark. Of course, this doesn’t prove anything whatsoever, and one must be very wary of believing gossip and scuttlebutt. However, it is interesting that such allegations were apparently “common knowledge” in the Victorian Aboriginal community at that time.


  1. Iain Hall
    Posted February 2, 2007 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I always thought that Clark came over as a thug and a Bully just from the times that I have seen him on the TV. The scuttlebutt and rumors may not be any good as actual evidence but it can be a very good indicator of the way that a person is perceived by his fellows as is suggested in this case.

  2. Law Student
    Posted February 3, 2007 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Earlier in the week i was reading the newspaper which had an article about Clark. In that same article they mentioned another known figure who committed a similar crime.

    The newspaper also had an article on the sentencing of a man who killed the other man with a bow and arrow over a religious discussion.

    In relation to Clark and the other man, the media could have ran a headline which read:
    “Christened man guilty of rape”.

    And for the bow and arrow case, a good title could have been:
    “Orthodox man kills Muslim”.

  3. Legal Eagle
    Posted February 3, 2007 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Your example of the bow and arrow case is a very interesting one: imagine the uproar if the Muslim man had killed the Orthodox man instead. There would be press beat-ups about how Muslims are violent. Doesn’t seem fair that the religions of some perpetrators are singled out over others, does it?

    It seems to me that religion should only be mentioned if it is somehow relevant to the offence, or, as in the case of the K brothers, the perpetrators themselves raise their religion as relevant (thus making the topic “fair game” for discussion).

  4. Legal Eagle
    Posted February 3, 2007 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Incidentally, I noted in The Age hardcopy edition that Linda Burney, NSW MP and Aboriginal activist, said that rumours about Clark had been circulating in the Aboriginal community for a long time prior to the court case, which confirms my impression.

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  1. […] Still, I can imagine that Clark might have similarly lacked reputation after the well-publicised case where Carol Stingel successfully sued him in a civil law claim after she alleged that Clark […]

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